19 months, a car wreck, and a box full of puppies

The past week was an eventful one.  Well, actually it was just Thursday, but there was enough action to make it feel like a week.  First of all, and most importantly, I celebrated 19 months of sobriety.  Who whudda thunk it?  If anyone had told me 19 months ago, that I could and would be free of alcohol for this long, I would have thought they were crazy.  But here I am, over a year and a half later, still sober.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s a fucking miracle!  I am so grateful that I haven’t had a desire to drink for so long.

Back to Thursday. Austin and I had been functioning (if you could call it that) on very little sleep for the previous week and a half. Our dog, Lucy, was pregnant and due any time. She is a chihuahua and needs a lot of help whelping puppies, so she couldn’t be left alone at all. We were afraid that she would go into labor when we were asleep, so we came up with the idea of sleeping in shifts. Austin would stay awake until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., wake me up, and then I would stay up and let him sleep until I had to leave for work. It wasn’t bad for the first few days, but as Lucy’s due date came and went, we became more and more sleep deprived.  And more and more grumpy.  Of course, we weren’t the only ones…Lucy was pretty uncomfortable herself.

Poor thing, she's as big as a house...ok, a very small house.

Poor thing, she’s as big as a house…ok, a very small house.

Here's what she normally looks like.

Here’s what she normally looks like.

Anyway, shortly past midnight Thursday morning, Austin woke me up to tell me that Lucy was in labor.  Finally!  I don’t know if we calculated her due date wrong, or if she just wanted to cook those little pups longer, but it seemed like she was gestating much longer than the normal 9 weeks.  Of course, the last almost two weeks of broken-up sleep felt like a year all by itself.  The first little girl was born around 1:30 a.m., followed pretty quickly by the runt of the litter.  Lucy happily assumed the mama role and let the two nurse for a bit while she prepared for the remaining babies to make their appearance.  After a couple of hours puppy #3, a little boy, came and then, finally, the last little girl.  Mama and babies are doing well and the human work is done.  It’s all up to Lucy and her full mammaries now.

 

 

Living in a box

Living in a box, for a few weeks at least

I was overjoyed that I would be able to return to my normal sleep schedule.  Oh, how I was looking forward to going to sleep at a normal time on Thursday night, and sleeping for longer than 4 or 5 hours.  I was so happy anticipating my good night’s sleep that I didn’t even mind that I had to go to work for eight hours after being up since midnight.  I knew that a reprieve was coming.

Perhaps I should’ve paid a little more attention to my sleep deficit.  It had briefly occurred to me that maybe I should take the day off and get some rest.  But I had already asked for next week off (my first vacation, or more accurately, stay-cation) since I went to rehab 19 months ago, so I didn’t feel like I could take the time off.  So off I drove, but I didn’t get far.

Here’s what happened on my way to work:

Friends don't let friends drive tired...

Friends don’t let friends drive tired…

I guess my exhaustion slowed my reflexes, because when the three cars in front of me slammed on their brakes, it took me too long to do the same.  I rear-ended the Jeep in front of me and wrecked our minivan.  The Jeep had very little damage, thank God.

I drove the broken van home and proceeded to have a meltdown.  One thing I know is that I don’t handle crises very well.  Intellectually, I know that everything will be ok, even if it takes a while.  I can tell myself things like, “it could’ve been much worse” or “it’s just a car, I’m lucky no one was hurt.”  But in the moment, I see those as platitudes, because surely, the end of the world is coming.  As soon as my husband put his arms around me I dissolved into a mess of hopelessness.  I don’t know if it’s my inner 5-year-old or my alcoholic thinker that tells me that things like this fender-bender are completely earth-shattering, but that’s where my mind goes when chaos hits.  Knowing all of that, though, doesn’t help in the least during those times.  When I am in meltdown mode, the only thing that helps is time.  In this case, it took until mid-day Friday for me to believe the ‘platitudes’ of my own mind and those from my friends.  It turns out that the damage to the car is almost all cosmetic, not as bad as it seemed at first.  It’s ugly, but until we get it fixed, it’s nice to know that I won’t have to buy a bus pass.

The important thing that I can take from this is that while I would like to be able to move out of my basket-case, everything-is-shit mentality as quickly as I move into it, I can rest assured that I do always move out of it; that it will not last forever.  And I don’t have to drink over it.  Ever. In fact, I know from past experience, that drinking over it would only prolong my craziness, possibly to the point of no return.  I could, in reality, end up where I just think I am in the midst of turmoil.  And that would be a truly sad ending.

So today, I am thankful that things have turned out the way they have.  I am thankful to be sober with a smashed-up car, and that it wasn’t something worse. I am thankful for all of my friends who have comforted me, expressed their gratitude that I’m ok, and offered help if we need it.  I am grateful to have a week off work to read, and write, and be lazy.  I am grateful for 19 months without booze.  🙂

And I am grateful for a box full of puppies.

And I am grateful for a box full of puppies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Knowing myself

Step 4

Step Four of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

I am working my way through the steps again with my sponsor, and I just finished all of the writing for my 4th step.  Somehow, I thought that doing a 4th step at this point in my recovery would be easier than it has in the past.  I mean, I work the maintenance steps (10,11,and 12) most days, so it seems like I shouldn’t really have a lot of stuff to work on.  Riiiiiiiiiight…  I also thought that I wouldn’t suffer from procrastination and avoidance this time.  Riiiiiight….again.  I have had a rough time of it lately, which is why I thought I was being lazy about finishing my 4th step.  But now, looking back, I am convinced that I was having the same feeling about doing it this time that I had when I sat down to write the first couple of times around.  Fear.  Yep, that’s it, plain and simple.  I was fearful about looking at myself as closely as one must for a thorough 4th step.  No matter how much sobriety I have under my belt, or how self-aware I am, I still have resentments, liabilities and fears.

As I listed my resentments and my part in them, I noticed a pattern that wasn’t there before.  In past lists, my part was always clear.  It usually had to do with me being selfish or afraid of losing something that I wanted.  This time around, it became clear that I still have a problem with forgiveness and acceptance; my part, it seems, is continuing to hang onto old stuff.  Many of the resentments on my list were old ones that I just can’t seem to let go of.  Some are the same that were on my very first 4th step, and I am still clinging to them!  The absence (for the most part) of new resentments shows me that I have gotten better about dealing with issues as they come up now, but clearly I still have work to do on the issues that sent me out drinking in the first place.  I know now that I have to return to the work I have done on acceptance and forgiveness and dig deeper if I want to be able to let these resentments go.

Doing this 4th step, really taking a hard look at myself, wasn’t all bad.  I found that in taking my inventory, being searching if not fearless, I have taken many steps in the right direction. One thing that my sponsor has me do is list my assets and liabilities.  After I finished my writing for this step, I looked back at my old ones to see the differences.  It turns out that my list of liabilities is much shorter, and my list of assets is much longer.  I remember that when I first began this journey of recovery, it was extremely difficult for me to see anything positive in myself.  When I went to treatment the first time the intake therapist asked me to tell her three things that I liked about myself.  I could only come up with one.  In looking at my list now, I can see the evidence that I am liking myself more, and that my self-worth and self-esteem are improving.  I am flawed and broken, but I have value.  I am always going to be a work in progress, but I get healthier every day.

As always, there is a sense of relief that has come with finishing my 4th step.  I have heard many times in the rooms that the 4th and the 9th step are the ones that send alcoholics back to the bottle the most.  I understand that.  Fortunately, that hasn’t happened to me, but that is only by God’s grace.  It’s hard to look at oneself objectively and without excuses.  But it can be done.  🙂

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Note:  In addition to the Big Book, my sponsor has me use The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: Interpreted by the Hazelden Foundation for working my steps.  It’s a great book that delves deeper into each step.  I highly recommend it.

 

I’d like a mulligan for May, please. (And Healthy Habit #6)

do_over1-300x300

I would like a do-over for the month of May.  Is that too much to ask?  It was a long, horrible, emotional month that I spent doing a whole lot of nothing (when I wasn’t busy being depressed and feeling sorry for myself).  I didn’t write much, I didn’t read much, I didn’t declutter anything, I didn’t finish my 4th step, and most of my Healthy Habits that I have been working on went by the wayside.  The month started off with my daughter’s 17th birthday, then Mother’s Day, and then her high school graduation, none of which I got to be a part of.  In the last six weeks, I have had six friends die (overdose, illnesses, and a car accident), and I am weary.  My husband’s 11 month contract for work was up at the end of April, and he hasn’t yet been able to find another job, so financial stresses are creeping back in.  And the whole month of May was windy.  I hate wind.

All of that being said, I am not looking for sympathy.  I’ve given myself quite enough of that, I think.  I am, as they say at meetings, ratting myself out.  I feel like I have to tell on myself because I haven’t been doing the things that I know I need to do to be healthy.  While I have been honest about my feelings of sadness and depression with those closest to me, I haven’t spoken up at meetings, and I haven’t really done anything to deal with my negative emotions, I’ve just been waiting for them to pass.  But they haven’t.  So consider this post my confession, the short version of my upcoming 5th step.

I’ve realized that I am playing on a slippery slope.  I haven’t wanted to drink (thank you, God), but I haven’t exactly been the poster child for sobriety.   Last night, after finding out that my friend died in a car accident  earlier in the day, I had a drinking dream.  I know that many recovering alcoholics have drinking dreams, but I haven’t had one for a very long time.  Honestly, it kind of threw me for a loop.  What does it mean?  Have I become complacent in sobriety?  Am I taking for granted that right now I don’t want to drink?  Have I chosen to place wallowing in my self-pity above my recovery?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Probably though, it was just an anxiety dream that followed a really bad day.

What I am choosing to think though, is that it’s a wake-up call for me.  I want off the slippery slope and back to my previous, moving-in-the-right-direction, physical and emotional sobriety.  That isn’t going to come me if I just continue to wait for bad feelings to pass.  I have to get my butt back in gear and do the things that I know work for me.  That means more meetings, more writing, and more blog reading.  It means that I have to finish my 4th step and work on my healthy habits.  It means that I need to remember the things for which I’m grateful.  I can’t remember the last time I wrote a gratitude list.

So for June, I’m not going to try a new Healthy Habit.  I am going to focus on the habits that fell away during May, and get good at those again.  It’s my mulligan for 2014.  I know that I can’t really redo May, but I can make June a happier, healthier month.