Friday, April 30, 2010

Meetings and Life

This Friday night meeting and getting up at 3:45 on Saturday morning combination are not going to work out for me. I am up too late for a normal get up time.... let alone a crazy-early one. It sure was good to go to my friend's birthday though. He was wearing a Brooks Brothers shirt and it sure made me happy.

It was glorious to get to the meeting and see so many friends. It refilled my bank of feeling like I belong in this outfit. It has been running low for a while now. I even got to talk with a new woman after the meeting and gave her my phone number - that is just awesome.

Before the meeting started, a young man walked over to me and asked me if I normally attend a meeting that I have never attended. My radar went up and I asked his name. When he told me his name, I knew where I knew him from. I suggested to him that we know each other from somewhere other than AA... he thought about it but didn't put it together. Then I told him we are on our HOA board together. He looked a little queasy over that idea... well, I don't like it that much either. He has been the most obnoxious person! Maybe if he gets sober he will calm down and stop knowing everything. He just got out of rehab... God bless him. I didn't get a chance to talk to him after the meeting to reassure him that I would never tell anyone where I saw him - and I expect him to do the same. Oh well.

The photo is from a trip I made to REI after work. I wanted some good sunglasses for running and biking. I got some. Boy, and how. They are some good ones. Then I walked down to Confluence Park. My first real job in sobriety was in a building overlooking that park. That park is very special to me. It was good to just stand there for a while. And nice that there was a kayaker in the river - nice for me... maybe not so nice for him... it is really, really cold today.

I have got to go to bed.

Grateful, grateful, grateful... hope you all are too.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nine O'Clock

It's Nine p.m., and it is time for bed. I had a nice, busy, productive day at work today. I'm nice and tired now. I have a nice, busy, productive day planned tomorrow... followed by the 27th birthday meeting of the man who took me to my first meeting 25 and 3/4 years ago.

Oh, he was such an expert back then. And I thank God for that. He is a gentle, soft spoken man now. But back then he was a bit of a blow-hard know-it-all.

His girlfriend had 12 stepped me on the phone that morning. She said she would pick me up and take me to a meeting. So, they showed up. She had on a long denim skirt and a red and white striped boat neck shirt, it was really cute. He had on khaki pants and a starched blue oxford cloth button down shirt (which I happen to think is the one of sexiest things on earth). He was driving a new Jeep Cherokee. They sure didn't look like alcoholics!

He went to the men's meeting and we went to the women's meeting. On the way into the building - on my way into my first meeting, we, my first sponsor and I, simultaneously, pulled up our panties through our denim skirts. He happened to look back just as we did that, and said - "class act." It was the most ridiculous thing, but made me feel like maybe I belonged here. Here I was, serendipitously dressed the same way as this lovely sober woman, doing this same strange thing as we walked into a building - and this man just kind of rolled his eyes at us - in a loving way.

As we got into the car after the meeting, he asked me if I had a big book. I said no. He got out of the car and came back with a big book and gave it to me (it is one of my most prized possessions today - even though the pages no longer are bound to the cover). He said "read it as if your life depends on it - because it does." oh, goodness, I thought. He wasn't done. Among other things, he told me to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. I told him I couldn't possibly do that. "Why not?" he inquired. I told him I had a husband and three small children. He quickly responded, "Do it, or loose the husband and three children!" And oh, it just went on and on.

For some reason, instead of concluding that D. was a jerk, I took each thing he told me to heart. I read that book as if my life depended upon it. I did the things the book suggested I do. I went to all those meetings. I got a sponsor. And I passed it on.

And 25 and three quarters of a year later, I am still sober, reminiscing about that first meeting. He is celebrating 27 years of sobriety. We are a bit older. We have accumulated a bit more sober history, some of it together. He is now married to a lovely woman. That girlfriend, my first sponsor, now lives in the UK and is drinking again. I hear from her occasionally. She fancies herself a writer - she writes some really odd e-mails in the middle of the night and they just about break my heart.

I know that I would rather be sober. And if D. would decide to be a know-it-all again tomorrow night and tell me what he thinks I need to do, you know what? I think I might listen to him. I do things like that.

Thank God for sober experience, sober memories, and sober friends.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Three Days Off Work

I've had three days off work now. I feel like a battery that is running down. I called my boss this afternoon and asked him if he would mind if I come back tomorrow - knowing full well that he wouldn't mind - but it seemed better than just showing up.

I went to a meeting this morning and then mass. I finished the book that I purchased to read this week - it was quite good (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri), but I would have four days with nothing to read if I were to continue this "vacation." Anna Karenina is sitting on my sofa, wishing to be reread after 20 years. I don't know if I am up for Russians any more. It takes so much energy to read them.

This afternoon I went and got a manicure and pedicure, got my eyebrows waxed, and spent 12 minutes in a tanning bed. That might sound like a good day to some, but frankly, it sounds like a big waste of time to me.

I want to go back to work. I looked at my daytimer today - all the notes from last week. All the lists of things to do each day. I want my life to be like that. I don't want to leisurely drive to the nail salon and waste a few hours in the middle of the day.

I know many happily retired people, and I am sure that when it is my time to retire, I will be one of them. But today, I am not ready to be one of them. I did not start my career in earnest until I was ten years sober, at the age of 42. So, I have only been at this for a little over 15 years. Call me a case of arrested development, but I feel like I am just at the middle of my career - I know that is not really the truth because I only have six or seven years left. But I intend to work my ass off for those six or seven years. Happily.

So, now I shall go sit down with the knitting I have photographed above. Another baby blanket, for a little girl already born... And I will watch American Idol for an hour and then go to bed. I hope my little man from my very own high school will survive. I will set my alarm for tomorrow morning so that I won't be late for work tomorrow. I have to stop doing that.

Just before I started writing this I tried to call my daughter - she texted back - "will have to call u n a few, im 12 stepping a speed freak" A minute later she texted "But for the grace of God there go I... God bless this bouncy chick." That is music to a sober mother's ears.

God Bless us All. Every One of Us.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Taste of Life

(The above photo is of the back of the "main building" of my alma mater - it was the main building in the 1800s, it is hardly the main building now, but it is still known as such)

If the last two days have been a taste of life as a retiree. I can wait. A long time. After two days off of work I want to go back. I need the structure. I need a place to go every morning. With people who expect me to be there. As much as that feels like pressure a lot of the time, I need it.

I don't mind days off when I have tons of vacation type stuff to do. Tons of money with which to do it. Places to go, people to see, etc. I was tempted to hop on the train today and go to one of my favorite hot springs resorts, but honestly, I have a multitude of plans for the summer and I see no need to spend a couple hundred dollars just to kill a day right now.

So, today I headed out to church first thing. Then I went to an AA meeting at 10 a.m. It was a good meeting. It was nice to be greeted warmly by some folks I hadn't seen for a long time. A few of the ladies and I stood around after the meeting and talked. It felt like the kind of fellowship that I am sorely missing in my life lately. We talked about real AA stuff. They asked me to come to another meeting they thought I would really like and they would like to see me there. It was very nice. Very nice.

And then I came home. I am loosing speed. I started out strong, but I feel myself just winding down... to nothing.

I think I am going to call my boss tomorrow and ask him if he minds if I cut my vacation short and come back to work on Thursday. I think this is a waste of vacation time. I have so much stuff planned for this summer when I will really need the time, I think I ought not use it now, particularly if I am not even enjoying it.

Grateful to be sober today. Grateful to attend a ten o'clock meeting. I went to many, many of those in my early sobriety. Those used to be the earliest in the morning meetings. The old retired guys used to be there. Now there are a new batch of old retired guys. I know they are very helpful to the new people who really long to hear that experience, strength, and hope.

Good night, xoxox

All Jacked Up

And that's a good thing. I had my driveway and sidewalk mud-jacked yesterday. Most people, I have found, have no idea what mud-jacking is - it is a process to repair sunken concrete by drilling holes in it and pumping a mud like mixture under pressure into the holes until the slab of concrete rises back up. It was amazing to watch. I had no idea that process would fix the structural problems of my front porch, but it did!

I would have spent a couple of thousand of dollars to build a new front porch, and put it on a bad foundation, not realizing that the bad foundation was the problem. It seemed to me, and everyone else who looked at the porch, that the wood was the problem.

As I watched the porch miraculously recover, I was reminded of my life just before I got sober. I had a host of serious problems. Frankly, drinking didn't seem like the biggest one. Drinking seemed like something I needed to do to cope with the rest of the problems. And yet, somehow, in the midst of all this turmoil, I had the profound desire to quit drinking - I believe that desire was a gift from God. And once the alcohol was removed from my life and I started living on a spiritual basis - without all of the dishonesty that goes along with an alcoholic existence - all of those serious problems seemed to vanish into the ether!

Just like watching that porch untwist itself yesterday. I could not untwist my life by trying. But I could go to work, with the help of God, on its foundation, and my life would untwist itself.

Amazing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Families

I just finished watching "When Love is not Enough" and found it tough to watch. I wanted to turn it off about half way through. I just could not stand one more drunken debacle of Mr. Bill Wilson - and his disgusting apologies. But, oh, when he sat on the bed at Towns hospital and said he had his spiritual experience, I just started crying, and said out loud - to no one, "he never drank again." He Never Drank Again. And how many millions of people since have had the same experience and Never Drank Again. It is still happening every day. That is certainly my story.

Perhaps it is the alcoholic in me who found this to be Bill Wilson's story through the eyes of Lois. I was hoping to see more of Lois' story. Perhaps this is my perspective though...

Day two of my vacation was very good. I tried to walk 6 miles, but didn't have the patience for it, so I ran 3 of it. So walk 3/ run 3. It is hard to walk long distances.

Then I met my friend and her mother and father at my Alma Mater to go to mass at 11 a.m. It was lovely. I had never met her parents before. They are from Ireland. I walked around the campus and took photos after mass. (but still used a cell phone photo taken on my run this morning for this post.)

Today is my eldest brother's 72nd birthday. Yikes. I called him to wish him a happy birthday. Then I decided to call my second eldest brother. Then my youngest brother (who is 10 years older than me). Then my sister (7 years older than me). A couple of hours later, I had spoken to everyone in my family of origin. What a wonderful thing.

I am gratefully connected to several different kinds of families. My family family. My AA family. My work family. My church family. My neighborhood family. I am sure I could increase the list. I am so grateful to be considered a part of any of these.

And now it is snowing. I am acclimating to the life of a person who does not have to get up early in the morning.... look at me, up at 11 p.m.! Crazy! Tomorrow I do not have to drive through the late April snow to get to work! Yippee!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Commitments, Disappointment, and Letting Go

Look at all those lilac buds on my little lilac bush! For the last two years they have gotten frozen and killed before they ever turned to real flowers. I hope that this year they will be able to bloom and be beautiful and turn my little garden into an olfactory delight.

It has been a weekend of strange disappointments for me. First there was the census job. I am truly disappointed about that. One one hand there is disappointment- and on the other hand there is rejoicing - because I was wondering where I was going to get the energy for two jobs! I truly wanted the money though.

A friend had called several weeks ago to tell me that a very dear friend was celebrating his 27th birthday at a particular meeting on Friday night - last night. It has been on my calendar, and I was greatly looking forward to it. When I got there, I thought it was odd that I barely knew anyone there. My friend was nowhere in sight. I looked at the birthday cake - it said "Happy 15th Birthday Soyna" (misspelled Sonya). I am sorry, but I have never seen anyone be so ungracious about a birthday - not for one year, not for ninety days, not for anything. But especially not for 15 years. God Bless Soyna. I talked briefly with a friend after the meeting - I knew her from work before I knew she was an AA member - she said Soyna has come a long way. That's why it is nice to know a person - you know things like that. I, however, don't. And her calling the meeting format "shit" did not impress me much. Oh well.

My dear friend, who took me to my first meeting, is celebrating his birthday NEXT week. The fellow who told me he was celebrating it THIS week apparently knew that, because he wasn't there.

So, I didn't get to sleep until after 10 o'clock and had to get up at 4 a.m. to meet my running club. I managed to get up and drive the 20 miles to the appointed meeting place. And luckily there were some other unfortunate souls there who had just gotten the information that the run was canceled, so they were able to pass that information on to me.

I really had to scratch my head and wonder about why I spend so much effort honoring commitments. It seems to be not the norm. It is my norm. But not THE norm. Mores the pity.

The way I saw it, at 6 a.m. this morning - I had two choices: 1. be mad all day, or 2. make the best of the new several hours of free time. I headed to the 6:30 meeting I haven't been able to attend since I joined this club. There were a couple of people who were happy to see me.

There are frustrations in life. It is up to me whether I am going to let them ruin a day, a week, a month, or my life. I think I am not going to. I am still going to honor my commitments, because that is the right thing to do - in my book - and I don't care if it is in anybody else's book or not. And when I get disappointed by others, I will just move along and make the best of what I have available to me.

Today I got to a meeting I hadn't expected to go to. I got to take a THREE HOUR NAP that was heaven! I went to the grocery store and purchased the ingredients for Chicken Corn Chowder and brought it home and made it - and it was good. My grandchildren dropped by for a quick visit. And then, totally unplanned by me, the spirit moved me to go outside in the early evening, with my gardening gloves, a big garbage bin, and a long metal pronged instrument with which to pull weeds! I spontaneously pulled weeds! It was miraculous. And when I came inside I got to eat a bowl of fabulous Chicken Corn Chowder - oh yum.

I would say my first day of vacation was a success!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Night

This is a photo from inside my guest bedroom - aka my daughter's bedroom. I thought the tulips looked pretty from inside here. Tonight they are covered with snow. Snow.

It snowed all day today. It is quite cold. I am utterly exhausted.

I went to a meeting tonight thinking that one of my dear friends was celebrating his birthday... it is next week. I was very disappointed. Say what you will about what that says about me, I was disappointed.

I need to be up at 4 a.m. to meet my fast walking group. Which means I need to go to bed STAT.

I hope to get some good photos on my adventure tomorrow. I am getting tired of tulips... well, not really, but I am afraid you all might be.

And now I will do what I have been doing since they told me to do it when I got to AA...

Thank Him at night. (and ask Him in the morning) For another day of sobriety, that is.

Thank You.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1700th Post

That's a lot of sitting down and writing posts. Oh well. I have truly sat down and written that many posts and most of them I have truly enjoyed writing.

Today my "crew chief" for the census bureau called just to clarify some last minute things. One of the last minute things was that they expect me to work 40 hours a week. Yeah, after I clarified with the person who hired me a month ago that I could only work 20 hours a week tops. Max. I told this guy how deeply disappointed I am. How much labor I have put into planning to take a week off of my job. He said it was not negotiable - it is 40 hours a week for 6 to 8 weeks or nothing. I told him I already have a full time job and there is no way I can work another 40 hours a week. I gave him the name of the person who told me I had a job at 20 hours a week. Tomorrow I will call the first person. This is really annoying.

Governing Body is next week at work. The report I give there is a major feature of my job. I have spent weeks getting my report ready and coaching others to give it for me. I can't believe I didn't really need to do that.

I decided that I will take next week off of work regardless. I desperately need some time off. I may need time off just to take time off much more than I need time off to work a second job - with people it appears I would not enjoy working with much.

(Just to clarify for those of you who may not have been following this... I was hired to work for the census bureau - part time, temporary. 20 hours a week, nights and weekends. But I had to complete a 40 hour week of training first, and that is scheduled for next week. So, I scheduled a week of vacation from my regular job so that I could attend the training.)

When I got home from work, I looked at all of the things I could do at my house for a week. The first thing that appeals to me is
1. take naps - lots of them
2. pull those stinky old weeds
3. prune trees
4. finish some writing that needs to be done for something that I have been putting off
5. maybe get in my new car and take an over night trip?
6. chill out.
7. chill out some more.
8. go to lots of AA meetings.
9. maybe paint my bedroom (green) if skilled sponsee is in town - she said she would help me.

I would really like that. Maybe I really hope I don't find someone to be reasonable at the census bureau - and I think the odds are good that I won't. I could use a week off with no where to go and nothing in particular to do.

Life is good regardless of circumstances. Life is just very very good.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Buds on the Trees

There are buds on the trees. There are tulips in bloom in the garden. There are the deep almost red hued tiny leaves on the rose bushes. The ornamental grasses are starting to show green under all the brown from last year. Some of these things are nearly a month later than they would normally be. I don't care. I am just grateful they have happened at all. I had begun to think they never would. I will gratefully sleep with my window slightly open tonight.

I have two more days to get everything in order at work to take a week off work. This will hardly be a vacation. I am taking a week of vacation in order to take 40 hours of training to be an enumerator (census worker). Oh dear. What was I thinking? I will appreciate the money. And who knows? I could appreciate the work. My boss told me today that this year's workforce for the census is the most educated they have ever had. I laughed and told him I threw the curve off. I am sure I am not the only one.

I am tired and need to go to bed. I am grateful to live in the Mountain Time Zone. I can look up the results of American Idol online and then go to bed. I do not need to endure two hours of that show tonight.

Grateful also for another day sober. I don't care how many there are. I never cease being grateful for another one. I never take another one for granted. They are all precious jewels. Gifts from God.

Let us all shine together, shall we?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Willingness in Small Things

(You will note the lack of weeds and dead leaves - that means that I took this photo at a public park and not in my own garden)

Tonight I met some women from my running club at a park after work for a 3 mile walk/run. This is SO out of my comfort zone. To meet up with three other women, one I have met twice, one I have met once, and one I met for the first time tonight... and join them for about an hour. It was fun, and I am really glad I did it, but it was an exercise for me. An exercise in willingness to step outside of my comfort zone.

I used my garmin to navigate me to the park - and it told me to go a way I did not want to go... and I went that way anyway... even though I didn't want to. I would rather avoid the highways and stay on the side streets. I very much dislike the interstates through the city at rush hour. But Mr. Garmin told me to get on them, so I did. And I lived through the experience, and probably saved myself some real headaches.

I was talking with the other women about wanting to do a half marathon in June and being told to wait until July or August by my coach. They told me that I could argue and go ahead and do the June one. I told them that I was paying money to get direction from someone else who knows what they are doing - I might as well do it their way. I have plenty of experience with doing it my way - I think I would like to try it the other way for a while.

Which reminds me of what I was told when I was new to AA. "If you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting." And I think that right now I would like to see some different stuff and I am willing to do some little things to change that.

Post Script: I made up my American Idol mind tonight. Probably Crystal Bowersox is the most talented. She is endearing in many ways. But I really like what Lee Dewyze has been doing in the last couple of weeks, and he graduated from the same high school I did (only 1,400 years later). So, I think I am going to be phoning in my votes for him for the next couple of weeks. Because you need to know this....

Fellowship

I have decided to start posting at night again because I have too much to do in the mornings. And I simply cannot be late for work every single day. But sometimes at night I am much too tired to write anything coherent. Last night I was too tired to even keep my eyes open. I slept for nine and a half uninterrupted hours and this morning I feel like myself.

I went out into the garden in my pajamas again to take photos of tulips. The tulips I planted in the first weeks I lived in this house have bloomed. Again. Reliably. Faithfully. I have taken photos of them every year since then. This is the ninth year I have watched in wonder as they have bloomed.

But I notice that this year there are weeds in the photos. And dead leaves from last fall. And other things that would not have been in the photos from the past.

It is easy to conclude that I am now older and don't quite enjoy the labor of gardening like I once did. But I think the truth is slightly more complex than that.

When I moved into this house I made fast friends with the woman across the street. We became really good friends. It was a revelation to me because I have pretty much stuck with alcoholics since getting sober. My new friend was a gardener and a compulsive home improver. We spent hours talking about our gardens, and we spent hours in our gardens. Even when we were working separately in our gardens, we would call out to one another. We weren't really working alone. It was really great fun.

Several years ago, Mr. Right (number 4) came into her life and she married and moved away. And as women frequently do, she forgot our friendship completely. She will not even say hello when she comes back to the neighborhood - which she does frequently since she couldn't sell her house, but rented it to her daughter. I think I remind her of something she would rather forget. It is sad to me because I thought we were real friends.

Anyway, the gardening thing... I think I am not much of a gardener. But when I had a friend who was gardening, I had the encouragement I needed to actually want to garden, and like to garden. It wasn't a chore, but a pleasure.

And thus it is in Alcoholics Anonymous. When I have surrounded myself with people who have the same problem (alcoholism) and the same goal (sobriety), I have found that I love to be sober, and I love to do what it takes to get and stay that way.

Trying to stay sober on my own would be like trying to motivate myself to go out and pull those ugly weeds. I can hire someone to pull the weeds (which I think I will do), but I cannot hire someone to stay sober for me.

Thank God I have an entire fellowship I can avail myself of. I cannot do this by myself.

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 59.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Exhaustion

The lovely indulgence of going to bed when it is still light outside. I should be at Biblical School. I literally cannot keep my eyes open. I actually closed my office door for a moment this afternoon and put my head down and actually fell asleep! Others have speculated that I am suffering from allergies... but I have never had them before and I have no sinus type stuff. I am just utterly and completely exhausted. Maybe I am just really, really tired? It could happen.

So, while the birds are still singing, and the sun is still in the sky, I will lay my weary head down on my pillow. And I will thank God that I can. I have missed one of my last nights of school and I do regret that, but I have missed very few nights this year, and I think I will be fine.

My daughter and granddaughters were just here for dinner. What a blessing to see my daughter as a sober woman. As she was leaving, she told me she is heading over to a meeting I used to go to years and years ago. She really has come to like that meeting. She goes to a big book study there on Monday nights.

I never thought I would ever have these conversations with my daughter. I am so grateful.

But if there were a contest right now between gratitude for sweet pillowcase on which to lay my head vs. sweet conversation about sober things with my sober daughter -
oh, there is no competition. They are both unbearably sweet.

Thank you God.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My name is Mary, I am an alcoholic

Most of my old blogger buds have moved along, and a lot of you I don't know so well, so although my story is here over the course of 1695 posts written over four and a half years, maybe it would be nice to have a little bit of a refresher.

I was born in December 1951, the youngest of five children. My father had a college degree, a job that required he wear a suit every day, and a hell of a drinking problem. He quit drinking in April of 1965.

I started drinking in July of 1966, while my parents were attending their regular Thursday night meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In one sip, I went from being a flat chested, skinny kid who felt ill-at-ease in almost every situation to being a voluptuous, womanly, funny, life of the party. Life was good and I knew where I belonged. I knew the answer to life's problems. I held the key to every door. No longer did I wish to become a nun. That desire flew out the window and never darkened my door again. I had more illustrious pursuits to follow!

By November of that year I was 14 years old and pregnant. By August of the following year I had given birth to my first child and had given her up for adoption. I returned to my school with the resolve not to drink anymore or to get in any more trouble.

That resolve lasted for less than a month. I was an overweight 15 year old alcoholic with a world class case of post-partum depression. Trying to go to high school every day. I dropped out of high school after a few months. Then I just devoted my life to drinking every day. I got a job for a few days but it interfered with drinking, so I got fired very quickly.

Mr. Right came along in June of 1968. Oh, I would like to poo poo this and make fun of it. Maybe he really did save my life, because I really did slow down. He encouraged me to go back to high school. I went back in the fall. I kicked ass and finished high school in 2 years. Basically I finished four years of school in two. I know that I brought a bottle of wine (ripple, fine, fine wine) to school every day and drank it. I graduated high school and got married right out of high school.

Then I started seriously drinking again..... Every single day, all day. I had nothing to do. I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I sat in our little apartment and drank every single day. I was only 18 years old.

When I was twenty-years-old I got a decent job. I knew after a few months that I was making enough money to have my own apartment and make my own car payment. So I filed for divorce. I was also about to turn 21, legal age to buy my own alcohol. When I was old enough to go to bars, I started going there - frequently. Oh, how I loved drinking in bars!

By the time I turned 21, I weighed 110 lbs... I am 5'7" - you could see my ribs through sweaters! My long blonde straight hair was down to my hips - oh, yes, I was a hit at the bars. I don't think I ever did pay for a drink in a bar.

When I was 22, I met the love of my life. The man who was to be my husband and the father of my children. He drank like I did. We both drank a LOT. Most men I dated could not keep up with me, but he could. We could drink all night. And then we could drink some more. We had a ton of fun. We went skiing. We went scuba diving. We camped. We went fishing. We got married. We had a big wedding. We had a big honeymoon. We had children.

We moved from a suburb of Chicago to a small town in New Mexico. And then he started traveling for his job. He was gone all of the time. All of the time. I was lonely. I was a young mother. And I lived in this crazy time machine (it only went backwards) town in New Mexico. This is when my drinking really turned pathological. I was still technically young - but I was a mother. I had responsibilities... but I had to drink. I had no choice in the matter. I had to drink and I had to drink every day. It wasn't fun. It was something I had to do.

He stopped liking me so much. He stopped talking to me. I still knew how to go to bars. So I did. It was a small town, I had quite a reputation. I got into a lot of the kind of trouble that women end up getting into. I don't feel like writing all of that tonight... if you are an alcoholic woman or know one well, you know what I am talking about.

I finally got into enough trouble I got really scared to even leave the house. The last three years I drank, I drank at home. I was too afraid to go anywhere. Funny, it didn't occur to me to quit drinking - my solution was to quit going anywhere. So I stayed at home and drank around the clock. Morning, noon, and night. I never drew a sober breath. I wanted to die every single day. I had three small children who needed me. My alcoholic insanity had me convinced they would be better off without me. I was bloated, overweight, red-faced, and insane. I hadn't worked outside the home for many years. I had no idea what to do.

On our ninth wedding anniversary, my husband came home from work and told me he had quit his job and we were moving to Denver. Denver?! I could think of no place I would less like to live. I was horrified. But we packed up and moved on July 5, 1984.

I found myself in a cracker box suburban house that was my worst nightmare. I had neighbors living inches from both sides of my door - and I noticed that they were not drinking morning, noon and night. And for some reason, I noticed that maybe I was the weirdo in this situation. Maybe I needed to change something. And maybe it was my drinking that needed to go.

For weeks, I got out the phone book every morning and looked up Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't call. I was too frightened.

On July 24, 1984, I made the call. I called the phone number for Alcoholics Anonymous. I got a young man on the phone. He listened to me for a minute and then suggested that he have a woman call me back in a moment. I thought he was getting rid of me... imagine my surprise when a few minutes later a wonderful, intelligent, soft-spoken woman called me back. She understood me! She listened to me! She listened to me for about an hour.

And after an hour, like a salesman closing a deal, she said "how about we go to a meeting tonight?" and I told her I couldn't possibly do that. "why not?" well, I told her, I had three kids and no babysitter. She would get a babysitter for me. I told her I couldn't pay the babysitter. She said she would pay the babysitter. I told her my husband had the car. She said she would pick me up. She said she would pick up the babysitter, drive the babysitter to my house, drive me to the meeting, drive me home from the meeting, pay the babysitter, drive the babysitter home.... and I knew she had me licked. I could not think of one more thing at that moment. I figured I could think of an excuse later on and call her back.

But as the day progressed and I started shaking, I prayed instead. I asked God to help me stay sober. I went to that meeting that night. At the meeting I heard what I needed to hear to give me the hope that I could stay sober if I did the stuff that was in the big book. Someone gave me a big book (which I still have) and told me to read it as if my life depended on it. People gave me phone numbers and told me to call them. They told me to get lots of phone numbers because alcoholics are active people and you shouldn't just depend on one or two of them, because they may not be available.

They told me all kinds of stuff. And for some reason I listened. I wanted to stay sober. I was done drinking. I got a sponsor and got her to help me with the steps. I got elected to be treasurer of the first group in my first 30 days (which was insane but worked for me). I got very busy with AA. I jumped in with both feet. I had been estranged from God - and this "God of my understanding" was a revelation to me. Everything was different. I was sober! For the first time in eighteen years!

I could go on and on and on.... This is a very brief summary of my story. And it leaves off just as I got sober. A lot of people would call this a "drunkalog" - I LOVE drunkalogs. I love to hear people talk about their drinking years.

I am so grateful for my experiences. Who knew that when I made that phone call on that fateful Tuesday morning, it would be the beginning of my real life. My sober life. I've not had a drink since. That, my friends, is thanks to the Grace of a Loving God.

Sunday Morning



It's already been a wonderful day, and I expect it to remain so. I've been to a meeting, then out for breakfast with the ladies. I took a stroll around a local park, just to get some spring photos for my blog (see above).

I have my apron on already. I will write this and then hit the kitchen. My son and daughter-in-law will be here at 12:30 for lunch.

I went to confession yesterday afternoon and then to mass. You know, I wonder if I ever would have been convinced to go back to that sacrament if the big book had not urged me. Thank God it did. It is the most wonderfully healing thing.

I really must get on my way to a wonderful sober day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Morning

This is a photo of a tulip, taken without flash, this morning. Mary Christine is out in her garden in her pajamas, in the dark, again. Oh dear. Oh the indignities of the life of a blogger. There were other photos of tulips, after I had put on the flash, but they looked sad and overexposed... probably the more appropriate metaphor for the life of a blogger. Too close for comfort maybe.

Last night I drove across town to my old home group to meet some friends for a meeting and dinner. I cannot tell you how it restored my soul. My friend S. was shocked when his wife and I reminisced about his first AA birthday, 23 years ago. She was not yet his wife, and I was not much of a friend at that point. And yet we could both recall details about that day. His jaw literally dropped when I said, out of nowhere, "August 15, 1986, that's your sobriety date." I remember these things. My friends. They are as much a part of me as my arms and my legs.

This morning I am heading out with my running group. I am looking forward to it. And glad that I am liking it. It was a last ditch attempt to get myself motivated and it appears to have worked, at least for now. I am on track for an early summer half-marathon and hopefully a fall marathon.

I am concerned that I will not be able to do my annual triathlon due to this shoulder injury. My ortho appointment is on May 3. I can only do a slow breast stroke at the present time. I still have hope that I can do a triathlon by August.

And that is all I have this morning.

And remember: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Ides of April

OK, so today isn't really the Ides of April, that would technically be the 13th of April. But I thought the title sounded a lot better than "tax day" or something like it. So I am going to go with it, as inaccurate as it may be...

Pammie came by this morning and commented that she thought I would be made crazy by some of the comments yesterday - they clearly misunderstood what I was saying. I thought about arguing here. But decided against it. I do worry about reading comprehension though.

So, changing the subject... you might ask... "what's new?"

Well, A couple of you may remember that I am a big fan of American Idol. I am so disappointed to say that this year I don't care who wins. I just don't care. The only one I might have cared about left last night. He has a great amount of talent and charm, I think the structure of the show just crushed his art. So, best wishes to you Andrew Garcia, I hope you have a brilliant future.

How's my shoulder? Well, I finally went to the doctor again this week - 6 months after he told me to come back if it didn't get better.... He took an x-ray, diagnosed an impingement as well as rotator cuff issues, and referred me to an orthopedic dude. I haven't heard from the orthopedic department yet. I will call if I haven't heard from them by the end of today. The pain and limited mobility are really getting old. I hope, hope, hope that there will be an easy answer.

Yesterday I got a county clerk to accept my application for a passport. I stupidly let my old one expire - by years past what can easily be renewed. So I had to do the whole process over again. It is not as easy as it used to be. I thought I had all my "papers in order" on Monday when I went to a passport acceptance agency, and they just looked at it and told me I would need an inordinate amount of paperwork that would be ridiculously difficult to obtain. They didn't even like the looks of my state issued birth certificate. I felt that I had moved to some third world country where I needed to press a hundred dollar bill into a hungry clerk's hand. So, I managed to leave there without one cuss word leaving my lips. Yesterday I started anew with an application and took it to a different place and carefully explained why I don't have my old passport and why I have an addendum for all the frigging names I have had and that the State of Pennsylvania would only send me what they sent me for a birth certificate, etc. And she accepted my money, and stapled it all together and sent it off. If you currently have a passport, do not let it expire. In 1990 when I got my first one, it was not this difficult.

I have more news, but I am keeping it to myself for now.

And on message - no matter what happens, I trust God that all is well. Deep in my heart I know that. And no matter what, a drink will not make anything better, in fact, I can't think of anything worse than a drink... not even death.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MC discusses her feeling about rehab...

It's the middle of the week, in the middle of the month. Kind of in the middle of the year. I am sort of in the middle of nothin'. I have not one idea this morning. I was going to go on a tirade about rehab, but opted not to.

I guess I could answer a question some of you have asked me over the last year or so. "Mary Christine G., what have you got against rehab?"

Well, kind readers, I didn't really have anything against rehab, per se, until about a year ago. One of those fancy pants places by the sea stole my blog and posted it on their website. The whole thing was sitting there. As if I was sitting at their treatment center-by-the-sea, waiting to charge people tens of thousands of dollars to pass on what I was freely given in Alcoholics Anonymous. I wrote them and told them to remove my blog. I called them and told them to remove my blog. I started posting stuff that was very negative that I knew they would not want on their website, and at about the same time, a very smart techno-savvy reader came along and told me about RSS feeds. Well, I had no idea. I made my blog unfeedable - which also made all your little links on your sidebars not work anymore for my blog. But it got my blog off their website. I really should go back and make sure they haven't put it back.

Let me back up a second and just reiterate that I am not speaking for AA, I am just speaking for me, one little member of AA. One little blogger. I just didn't like my blog being hijacked. It wasn't the first time it had happened either (but I do hope it will be the last).

So, I sit in AA meetings. And over the years they have changed. Dramatically. In my current location, at the current time, we are doing a bunch of crazy s**t. And it comes directly out of treatment centers. And that is what I have against rehab. We pass around those damn coins, as if we are magicians, putting magic spells on objects. We chant favorite parts of the big book, whole rooms of people chanting in unison - "God could and would if he were sought!" and "Keep coming back, it works if you work it! So work it cause you're worth it!!!" Etc. It is nutty. It makes us seem like a cult.

We have a whole new generation of AA members who have either gone through rehab or are sponsored by people who have learned at the knee of rehab - and their answers are no longer AA oriented. They are all about finding the right medication. Finding the right therapy. Who needs a 4th step when you can get hypnotized? Who would like to make amends to someone you have hated when you can take sleeping medications instead?

I am so grateful for the people and places of my early sobriety. It wasn't all warm and fuzzy. They were often close to cruel. I would prefer that kind of cruelty to the "killing them with kindness" kind I see today.

I remember running to the club one day in tears - and telling some guy I wanted to drink. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar and handed it to me. I asked him what it was for, he said "for your first drink." ouch! But it taught me that I was responsible for my own sobriety, that it wasn't up to them, it was up to me. Did I want it or not?

When I whined to an old guy about "guilt," he said "if you are feeling guilty, maybe it's because you are.... guilty." ouch. But he was right. If I wanted to stop feeling guilty, I needed to stop acting like a jerk.

They taught me that I wouldn't have improved self-esteem until I improved my behavior. I couldn't feel better about myself until there was something to feel better about. The cart wasn't before the horse.... ever.

And they told me to get busy. Not to wait around for someone to spoon-feed me sobriety. I was told that if I had 24 hours of sobriety, I could help someone who didn't have 24 hours of sobriety, and that they probably could relate to me better than someone with 24 years. I was told that I had to give it away to keep it.

I am so grateful for those experiences.

And I am grateful that my daughter is sober 15 months today. Her homegroup has a lot of those same folks I got sober with. She is already sponsoring someone. She is busy, busy, busy being sober. So, I guess it is not totally generational. Maybe it is geographical?

Faith, I must have faith....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Sense of Belonging

Yesterday I did a tiny bit of research on "a sense of belonging," and not surprisingly found that a sense of belonging came with a sense of well-being. The lack of the feeling of belonging was a predictor of depression.

I know that a sense of belonging in AA is a predictor of sustainable sobriety.

When I came to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was welcomed warmly. I was given phone numbers and encouraged to use them. People treated me kindly and I appreciated that. I was glad I had AA meetings to go to and people to call.

But when I got elected to be the group's treasurer, everything changed. I became a part of the group. They needed me! I had a true sense of belonging. Maybe for the first time in my life.

I don't believe a sense of belonging comes from other people warmly welcoming me as a guest. I believe a sense of belonging comes from having an investment, a commitment, a share in the deal.

I learned early on from that experience that I needed to be involved. It was stressed to me when I was new that I needed to "do something" whether it was stacking chairs, washing cups, chairing meetings, or being part of the service structure. But I had to do something - and everyone can do something.

I cannot passively wait for someone else to make me feel I belong. I need to do that for myself.
It is a life or death proposition.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sanguine

adj. cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident: a sanguine disposition; sanguine expectations.

Someone, who I really don't mean to pick on here, commented this morning that he was amazed by the sanguine way I wrote about my friend who is drinking. That really amazed me.

I think I basically said that I think she is a goner. She is one who won't quit drinking. Her mother died of alcoholism in her early 40s. She is in her 40s and is knock, knock, knocking at death's door. And she won't quit drinking. She is suicidal and driving a car. She is suicidal and drinking alcoholically.

Sanguine? I don't think so. If you mean optimistic, hopeful, or confident.

On the other hand, I have seen hopeless cases such as her get and stay sober. It can and does happen. It can happen for her. I wouldn't bet on it, but it could happen.

Maybe my choice of words doesn't give you an idea of how sick I am about this. I have talked for hours on the phone with people about it. I do not want to go to her funeral. Dammit! I am tired of tripping over the corpses.

When I call this particular woman "my friend," it is more like the John McCain kind of "my friend." She is someone I have known from my group for several years. I have encouraged her to call me and she has several times. I've met her (soon to be former) husband, and her children, I have sat at picnics and potlucks with her. I have been to her home, and she has been to mine. We don't have a big relationship. I just care about her because she is a drunk just like me - and I know that she doesn't have to die. But apparently she doesn't know that. And when someone doesn't know that, no amount of telling them seems to work.

Anyway, I feel that this is probably another minor betrayal for her. She doesn't need me writing about her on my blog.

I just felt that I had to say something.

For some reason tonight I was remembering my first boyfriend in sobriety. After his 11th DUI, I felt that I needed to break up with him. That was a heartbreaking loss. And now he is dead.

And my drunken cowboy - after he started drinking again after years of sobriety and wouldn't stop drinking and got belligerent with me, I felt that I needed to break up with him. That was a heartbreaking loss. The last I heard he had inherited some money and was rapidly drinking his way through that.... His 6'5" frame was down to about 160 lbs., skin and bones. I don't know where he is now, could be dead for all I know. But I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about him.

And Mr. Sweetie Man. What a heartbreaker that was. When he started drinking again (after years of sobriety) I knew that this wonderful relationship was never going to work. And to see his face on the news when his body was found in his home. His face on the television set in my living room - where we had shared so many lovely hours.

Oh, I could go on, but why.... I am just so tired of how we trivialize this malady - when its lethality is plain for anyone to see. It has taken so many people I have loved away from me.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early I shall write something cheerful - I have already formed it in my mind. It will be called "A sense of belonging." Because there are people who come to AA and recover from alcoholism and I need to focus on that. AA works.


Most of the things I have feared...

Have never happened. I spent months procrastinating doing my taxes because I "knew" I had to pay. Based on the fact that I pay every year. Or, in other words, I knew I would pay because I always pay. Yesterday afternoon, I sat down at my dining room table with a pencil, calculator, and all of my forms, and figured it out. Imagine my happy surprise when I realized that I am getting close to a thousand dollars back. I could have skipped months of dread by doing this in January or February instead of mid-April though... oh well.

Not one to ever let a financial gain be a financial gain for more than 30 seconds, I went out and immediately purchased the above - which I have wanted forever. Well, it didn't cost a thousand dollars, and it didn't put me in the hole or anything like that. But I wonder why I can't just take good news as good news without running right out and purchasing something. Yesterday afternoon, I sat on my sofa, with my little cinnabun dog curled up beside me, and read a book and listened to music. It was so lovely.

Yesterday morning I had breakfast after the meeting with a friend. I needed to talk about the shock of seeing our other friend drunk the day before. You know, it doesn't matter how long I have been sober, or how many funerals I have been to, it is horrifyingly sad. She is not dead, she is alive. But I am afraid for her. Some people just aren't done until they have drawn their last breath.

So, the dog went home with my son and daughter-in-law last night. I was sad to see him go. Today I will run walk 2 miles, then go back to work (gladly). Tonight I have Biblical School - only four weeks left of the third year - and then only one year after that! Wow. In only two weeks I start my second job - working for the census bureau.

In the immortal words of Steve Martin in the wonderful movie The Jerk - "Things are going to start happening to me now!"


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cinnabun

I edited this poor little doggy's eyes, so they look a little funky. They were bright blue though - which looked even more funky. He is just the dearest little thing. I have no idea how to care for a dog... all you dog people say - oh just pet him. Ha! I let him out into my back yard, and he is so small he can fit through the slats in my fence. On one side is a mean old cat who would tear him apart, and on the other side are two huge dogs who frighten me half to death. So I stand outside with him and warn him every time he looks like he would like to slither through the slats. It's funny how we become old women despite our best intentions. The one thing I do understand though is that on the weekends we both like to sleep. He curls in next to my side like a cinnabun. I think I shall miss him when he leaves at the end of today.

Yesterday I ran into a woman in the parking lot of the grocery store. She is a chronic relapser. When she first came to our group a couple of years ago, she had a high functioning job, a husband, two lovely pre-teen children, a very nice suburban home, and a horrible drinking problem. The only thing she has left of all those things is the horrible drinking problem. She had recently been sent away for months of "treatment" by her husband -and served divorce papers. As long as she was confined, she had been sober. As soon as she was not confined it seems she started drinking again. She explained to me all of the "reasons" she was drinking again.

I told her I don't understand "reasons" to drink. You have either had a psychic change or you have not. If you have had a psychic change, there is not one thing external that can cause you to decide to drink. Only I can pick up that drink and put it to my lips. Only I can.

Only God can keep me sober. Only I can decide to throw that away.

Please dear God may I decide to be grateful for your grace again today, and then put that into action. I'm off to a meeting... and then another full day. I will do my income taxes today.... eeeeek!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mercy, Mercy

I am in a hurry to get out the door to meet my roadrunners club for our Saturday morning run. Forgive me if I am in the habit of calling it running. I do that. I have been running for a long time. It is a difficult thing to start walking instead of running. It makes me feel elderly. It makes me feel like someone might think I belong to a "silver sneakers" group that walks around the mall. Oh no, this is a group that gets people ready for marathons and ultra marathons. And a few of us (12 last week) are walkers. The eleven other walkers I was with last week have completed marathons and other major races. They are accomplished walkers. Some of them have walked half-marathons faster than I have run them. I am anxious to see how this walking thing is going to work out for me. But it is still hard to say I am walking.

I had intended to post here later, after having walked my 5 miles, had some fellowship with newish people, and some sunshine and nature. However, I checked some other blogs this morning and realized yet again that most of my favorite blogs aren't there any more. And then others I still read haven't posted anything yet this morning. And I thought about the lonely reader out there who might need a word of encouragement this morning.... and thought perhaps I might be the one to offer it.

So let me say, there are people in Alcoholics Anonymous who don't drink. I am one of them. I came to AA when I was absolutely desperate to stop drinking. I thought it was the end of my life, but I didn't know what else to do. I threw myself on the mercy of the unlikely people I met in AA and they provided what I needed to get me sober. They told me to not drink. They told me to stop taking myself so seriously. They told me to stop thinking about myself. period. full stop. To think of others. They told me to pray. They told me to ask God to help me to stay sober. They gave me phone numbers and told me to call them. They told me Don't drink, Don't think (that one always makes someone mad), go to meetings, read the big book, get a sponsor, Etc.....

I did what they said. And now it is 25 and a half years later. I am still sober. I have not had a drink in all those years. I am still doing the same things. I know a whole bunch of people who are doing the same thing. We all are staying sober. Because AA works.

I live a happy, fulfilling life. Hopefully I am a positive member of my family, my church, my workplace, and my community. All because I learned how to be a member of AA first.

Thank you!
xoxoxoxoxoxox

Friday, April 09, 2010

Feeling the Friday Love

Yes, a dog! My son called yesterday afternoon and asked if I could keep their dog for the weekend while he and his wife are gone to another city on their National Guard duty. Well, of course I said "yes." It is the cutest little Italian Greyhound. I am not a dog person, as any reader of my blog probably knows. But I like this dog. We shall have great fun this weekend.

I slide into another six weeks of review of a "near-miss" suicide event where I work. These reviews tend to take their toll on me. Spending hours, days, and weeks dissecting what happened prior to an event such a this... interviewing the staff involved, reading every word documented, studying the patient's history, and trying to figure out - what can we do better. We usually come up with something.

Yesterday I did admit to those folks that I didn't remember what the heck we were supposed to be doing, but I came up with some stuff that I thought would be a good idea. We are all so busy, we don't have the luxury of an hour to sit around and talk about nothing. So, we got a lot done yesterday. And that was good.

I called my friends yesterday and told them I would not be at the meeting tonight. I cannot leave little Mr. Doggie alone all day while I am at work and then go out tonight. I don't much know how to have a dog, so I guess I will learn for one weekend.... and enjoy it as I go.

Grateful for another chance today.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Is it Thursday?

Do you know that I have been blogging for so long that I have actually used the title "Is it Thursday?" before? Most titles that I think are original to this day pop up as I type them, and this day was no exception. So on other Thursday mornings, I have sat at my computer and wondered - is it really Thursday already....and this week as on others, yes, it is.

The cup above is for my events with my running club. They provide water and gatorade every two miles, but no longer provide paper cups. So, they recommend you bring your own bottle, or purchase the handy-dandy device above. It has a little clip to go over your waist band, so you can wear it that way, or you can stuff it in your pocket - if it is empty. Then when you get to the water, you just fill it up, drink it, and away you go. Without wasting a bunch of paper cups. Cool.

I have a meeting this morning at work. I am chairing it. I have had such an overwhelming month at work that I don't know what I am supposed to be doing at this meeting this morning. I looked at my notes from the last meeting and it gives me no clue as to what we decided.... maybe nothing? This could be embarrassing. I need to be honest about not having a clear idea without spending an hour wasting people's time talking about nothing.

I better get to work so I can do the best job I can at getting some structure for this thing. I've already prayed, and now I am blogging, next I will spend a half hour on the treadmill (it is 27º outside), then the bathtub, and getting dressed, etc.... out the door... another day... Thank you God!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Snowy April Morning

The First Tulip of Spring - there really are disadvantages to being first...

It is snowing outside. It is supposed to be a very short-lived storm. I hope so. I am ready to see no more snow for five or six months.

My daughter is taking the bus to work today from my house. It takes exactly one minute longer than from where she was living. You just never know about bus routes.

A few months ago when I had night watch at my house and we were answering the phone calls for the local AA central office, after a few calls a couple of the guys asked me how I knew the bus routes so well. I can pretty much rattle off - take the 21 to the 76 to the 38, etc... no matter where a person needs to go. These guys were looking at me in the context of my current life and I guess that seemed kind of strange to them. So, I explained...

I never rode the bus until I was sober for 5 years and lost everything. When I didn't have a car, and the weather wouldn't permit riding a bicycle, I learned to ride the bus. And I got really grateful for the bus. When I was sober for 10 years and the debt of child support was absolutely crushing, I got rid of my car so that I could afford the child support - and again, I rode the bus for a few years. It was trickier then because I was working full time and going to school... but I did it. It made me more appreciative of things. And I paid every cent that I owed, and that kind of thing used to be stressed.

When other people rush around to give someone a ride or a car so that they can avoid public transportation, I wonder what wonderful experiences they are missing. For me, it was something that I am still grateful for.

Especially when I get into my nice warm car and drive where I want to go - when I want to go there.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Have a Plan!


I got my plan today from my brand new running club. I actually had some structure this morning when I thought "what should I do today?" So instead of skipping my workout as I have been doing lately, I actually did what the plan told me to do. I had a feeling this would be beneficial and that was part of why I wanted to either get a coach or join a club. How very exciting!

My daughter is still here with me. It is nice for me. She says it is nice for her too. Unfortunately, she goes back to work tomorrow. She doesn't have a car and her job is 25 to 30 miles from here. She's not sure yet how difficult it is to get there on the bus, you really never know about that until you try. She is very good at getting around on the bus, but sometimes it just isn't practical. I am sure she will figure out something today.

I have a huge day ahead. A full day of work, followed by a doctor's appointment, followed by an appointment to donate blood, followed by the monthly meeting of the Homeowner's Association Board. I will drag in at about 8:30 p.m., ready for bed.

Grateful to have the opportunity to live a full life today. Really glad that includes other people I love.

And some of those are you!

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Busy, Busy Activity of Early Recovery

My sober daughter showed up yesterday morning with her bags and without her boyfriend. I did a marginal job of not jumping for joy. He had decided at the last minute that a motorcycle ride would be better for his "serenity" than Easter brunch with his girlfriend's family. At that moment, this was pretty much a deal breaker for my daughter. Since I wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing him across the table from me, I wasn't sad about this.

After our family brunch yesterday she went shopping with her twin sister. Sometimes after an extended period of sobriety, you forget the huge things that happen in a person's life when they stop drinking and hurting others and start amending the harm they have done - seeing my daughters together after what they have been through - it is indeed miraculous. Later she went to a meeting and then coffee with a friend. And all through the day there were the text messages and phone calls... oy! What a beehive of activity!

My house has gone from being my peaceful and very quiet refuge, to a busy little beehive of activity. And that is good. It is likely very temporary and that is good too.

I am so grateful to have a sober daughter. She woke up a little while ago and told me her plans for today. She is meeting a friend and going to a meeting. And going here and there... all good stuff. I am glad she has a couple of days off work.

Did I say I am grateful to have a sober daughter? Well, I am. Three years ago on Easter was probably as bad as it ever got with her. It was horrifying. And now it isn't.

Thank you God.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Morning

I am preparing a small brunch for my two daughters this morning. My sober daughter is bringing her sober boyfriend. Dear Lord, please help me to like a 40-something year old man who insists on referring to me as "ma" - this is a challenge. He holds me in more regard than I will ever deserve due to my reputation in the group they both attend - it is somewhat creepy to me. Oh, I did some legendary things back in the 80s when I was newly sober ... like beating up a 300 lb. clown. Yeah, don't get the idea I am bragging here because I think it is plain to see I am not.

So, here I am, in my black patent leather heels, my pearl necklace, pearl bracelets, and pearl earrings, my black dress with the black patent leather belt, with a white cardigan... a grandmother just having returned from Easter Morning Mass - the holiest day in Christianity. And I will have to deal with a man who knows me mainly based on my reputation of crazy crap I did over 20 years ago. Wonderful.

The "run" yesterday was actually a walk. I opted to join the race walkers. They were more my speed. I am so injured and torn up from running (and aging) I don't know how I can possibly run a marathon, but I do believe there is a good chance I can race walk one. How pitiful is that? It is damaging to my pride, but it might be good for my body. It certainly was fun. I really liked the other ladies - they are all younger than me, of course. But they are fit and they have done lots of races and we had lots to talk about. I am actually going to sign up and pay money to do this thing. It is a hard thing for me to say that going it alone isn't working out so well for me - I think I'll try it your way. But clearly, in my life, the best things have happened to me when I have done just that.

I better go get started on the eggs benedict. I make the most divine hollandaise sauce! When given the choice of ham, lamb, or any other Easter dinner, my daughters asked to have a brunch of eggs benedict instead. Sounds good to me.

Have a Happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Something New

I am going to go and try to run with a road runners club this morning. One wouldn't think this would cause me a sleepless night - but it did. I have lost my ability to motivate myself to go out and run, I know I need some external help. I know that when I went to run the half-marathon in Phoenix last year and had some buddies to run with it was a whole lot more fun. I "knew" three of them from my other blog. And the rest of them were part of a running group. They had a lot of fun together. Well, I guess in that case, WE had a lot of fun. I will try to see if I can find the fellowship I crave.... But I am scared to death. I am not a fast runner. I am a whiner. It is cold out. The route they have chosen (not posted until yesterday) is far away and I don't want to drive there. I could go on, but there is no point, is there? I will do what you guys taught me to. Suit up and show up. Do it regardless of whether I feel like it or not.

Yesterday I spent many hours at church, which was wonderful. I looked around at one point and realized that there were people there I knew from work, from Biblical School, from my neighborhood, and from AA. What a wonderful feeling for this alcoholic to be somewhere and feel like I belong. Another thing I first experienced in AA.

And then I went to an AA meeting. In the meeting there was a man who was sober for 5 days. He is 3 days out of detox. He was shaking like a leaf. All over shaking. I remember that kind of shaking. And because they have a potluck on Friday night, he spent Thursday evening boiling potatoes and eggs, and chopping celery and onions for his own homemade potato salad to share with the group. These are the kinds of things that lead me to believe that he may stick around. I certainly hope so. It was good for me to talk with him.

And the potato salad was good too.

Wish me luck with the running club.

Have a Holy Saturday.... a Sober Saturday.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

There's my first tulip bud of the year. I think it is going to be a red tulip. I planted tulips when I first moved into this house nearly nine years ago now. I had no experience with planting things and I planted some tulips where tulips don't really belong - such as above. They are not in the flower bed, they are in the grass. I later realized that I liked my tulips in big clumps of monochromatic pinks or whites... not red, yellow, and orange mixes such as I planted in my first weeks of home ownership. I have thought I would dig them up and move them, but somehow as the season moves on, after the flowers die and I mow down the leaves, I never think of them again. For me this morning, they are a great reminder of how momentous it was have a piece of dirt of my own, where I can plant tulips in the fall and feel reasonably sure I will see them come up in the spring. This is the ninth year I have witnessed their faithful arrival.

It is Good Friday. I am fasting today. I do not have the television on today. Thankfully, this is a furlough day (mandatory day off without pay). I normally take a day of vacation on Good Friday because it is such a momentous day in the calendar of Christianity. My prayer and meditation today were exquisitely beautiful.

I have several tasks to do today, I will do them in silence. Later I will go to church for a service at 3 p.m. Likely I will go to a meeting after that and meet some friends.

I know that for many of you, you don't want to hear a word about anything that is remotely similar to "religion," and that is fine. For my early years in sobriety, I embraced the "spiritual not religious" tag. It worked for me, but after a time, I felt a tug, and then a not so subtle pull back to the church of my youth. The Last Place On Earth I Wanted To Go. I am not kidding you. But I am oh so grateful for the sponsor who told me that was where I belonged and where I needed to go. It was a revelation to me to find that most of the stuff I thought I had heard there was made up by me during the 25 years when I was away. It was viewed through the self-centered lens of alcoholism.

God has abundantly blessed me with sponsors and other mentors in recovery who have helped me with this journey. It has been one of the most important of my life. And I am infinitely grateful for it.

The ONLY time I have ever said I was grateful to be an alcoholic was when I went back to the sacraments with a humble and contrite heart. I am not sure that would have been possible without the crucible that was my disease. A sensible alcoholic will always and forever be humble - if they have full knowledge of their condition.

I am so grateful for the journey that has been my sobriety. And to think I thought I thought coming to AA and throwing myself at your mercy meant my life was over! I had no idea that I would later consider the drinking years to be virtually wasted years - and the sober ones to be the ones I remember and cherish.

It is here in AA that I was loved and learned to love in return. It is here in AA that I learned to love someone as they puked and hurled and heaved. I learned how to listen attentively to jibberish. I learned how to hold the shaky hand of a terrified drunk, and gather my own strength from that.

There is no way I can express my gratitude. So I guess I will just try to put it into action - for another day. Sober. The Grace of God is the most amazing thing.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Losses

Do you know if you do a search for images of women crying, you get photos of beautiful women with tiny little tear drops falling down their beautiful cheeks? That is not my experience of crying. When I cry, I despair! I wail! My face turns into a red, puffy, swollen thing not very similar to the image I can abide each morning in the mirror as I apply my make up.

Anyway, I have been late to work almost every day this week. And I think it is because I sit at this computer trying to find my way without my old companions. Particularly Pammie. On Sunday evening last week I actually saw when she took her blog down. I happened to have my computer set on "tabs," so I had a small view of her blog along with all the other things I had open. And then it was gone. Oh, that hurt. I am sure it was incredibly painful for her.

Do you know that these relationships aren't just things on my computer monitor? I know that some bloggers actually know some other bloggers in real life... particularly in Houston, The Sober Blogging Mecca. When I started blogging, I did not know any other bloggers. I think the first bloggers I met - and I could be wrong, because I have met lots of them - were in Houston in 2007.

In April 2007, I went to Galveston to my nephew's wedding and decided to drive to Houston for a day or two to meet Daave and Scott. I didn't really know Pam at that point. Imagine sitting at a Starbuck's with Daave, Scott W., Pammie, Zane, Ricky!!!, and others, too numerous to even remember. It was amazing.

I went back to Houston, as Daave's guest, in November of 2008 to attend a roundup. I stayed in Daave's home (which is very lovely). Scott W. picked me up at the airport. I got to sit between Pam and Scott at the banquet. Scott's sponsor was kind enough to take me to mass at the Cathedral (which is incredibly beautiful) in Houston and then to breakfast on that Sunday.

Last year, I met Ed G. because of blogging. He lives in a town nearby. He and his wife are people I am grateful to know. It is very odd to say that I would not have met him if not for blogging, but I am quite sure that is true.

And in October, when Daave came to town to buy a car, I was thrilled to have him stay as a guest in my home! As we drove up, he saw my front porch and said he would recognize it anywhere because I have posted so many photos of it here on my blog. He is a real friend.

My point? Well, I guess I have a minor point - I am struggling without Pam. My more major point - and one I hadn't intended to write about? How much the relationships with other bloggers have meant to me. I am not talking superficial stuff here. These are real relationships with real people, and:

I really love them.
xoxoxoxox