Good Things Come to Those in Recovery

good-thingsI’ve been neglecting this blog lately. I haven’t written very many posts in the last few months, and I don’t have any legitimate excuses as to why, except that life happens. I’ve been really busy with some new things that have come along, Good things. Really good things that I have been spending quite a bit of time on. The past few months, for whatever reason, have been very good to me. A couple of years ago I wrote a post about wanting to do more of the things that feed my soul. It seems that there has been some sort of shift, and I am now getting to do those things.

There are a list of things that I consider nourishing for my soul: connecting with others, writing, recovery (from alcoholism and mental health issues), sharing my story and hearing other people’s stories, and deepening my relationship with God. There are more, of course, but these are the biggies, and in the last several months, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to spend a lot of time doing them.

I’ll share some details:

  • My husband and I moved to a much bigger, nicer house at the end of last April. One of the things that has allowed us to do is entertain more. I’ve been able to connect with others so much more! In June we started what we call “First Sunday Dinner.” On the first Sunday of each month, we invite all of our friends over for a big potluck dinner. We set up extra tables in the living room and our friends come and go and it’s awesome! Sometimes we have more than 25 people, and sometimes we have a smaller group.  Either way, though, it’s fun to visit and laugh and eat, and most importantly, to connect.
  • I’ve been doing more writing (just not here) lately.  I’m doing some freelance copywriting, and earning some extra money. I’ve also been selected to be a blogger on the mental health website, HealthyPlace.com.  I’ll be writing for Trauma! A PTSD Blog on their site. It’s a great resource for anyone suffering from any kind of mental illness, or anyone who has a loved one who suffers from one.  Check it out if you have a chance, my posts will start next week.
  • One thing that I haven’t really blogged about, although if you listened to my story from a post last year I talked a little bit about it, is that I am post-abortive. Up until now, it hasn’t been something that I have been as open about as I am with my alcoholism. There is a lot that happens to a woman when she has an abortion, and the emotional and psychological impact isn’t talked about much. I have been fortunate enough to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat twice in the last few years. It’s a Christian retreat that provides healing and forgiveness for post-abortive women (and men who have had children aborted too). Now, I’ve joined the Rachel’s Vineyard team here in Tucson and I get to help other women whose shoes I have definitely been in. It’s such a blessing!
  • After a long search for a church where my husband and I feel accepted, with good preaching, liturgy we love, and a loving congregation, we found one! We’ve only been going for a short time, but I think this one is the right one for both of us. Thank you, God.
  • I’ve had some success with selling the prayer beads that my husband designed and I make.prayer beads green We started this as a way for people to learn to pray.  Austin chose the scripture that goes with each bead as you work your way around the loop. Making them is something that I love to do, as I feel like I am helping bring people closer to God, and I like being crafty!

It’s been an eventful few months, but I am so happy!  Life is good.  I am going to work on getting back to being more active here on Sober Grace, because my sobriety and recovery still have to come first, before all other things.  I cannot be complacent because it is only by staying sober that I can continue to do all of the wonderful things that feed my soul.

Good for the soul

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Gratitude – July 26

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Today I am conscious of my treasures, I have had a truly lovely day full of them.

Here is my gratitude list for today:

  • This morning a good friend of mine had an art show to sell some of her work.  She’s a very talented abstract painter and I have coveted her beautiful work for a long time.  Today, I was able to buy two of her prints (she was selling her work for ‘love contributions’, so buyers paid what they were able to) that I plan to hang in my office at work.  I can’t wait until Monday to see them on my walls.
  • Another good friend of mine went with me to the art show, and she brought her two lovely teenage daughters with us.  I had so much fun with them!!  My friend is one of my closest confidants, and I always feel comfortable talking to her about everything.  I am grateful for the connection that we share.  I thought that perhaps it might be a little bit difficult for me being around teenage girls when I miss my own daughter so much.  But it didn’t turn out that way at all.  I enjoyed being around girls that age again.  They laughed and talked and sang along to the songs on their iPhones that I had never heard.  It was a happy, lively energy that I have really missed.  I’m so thankful that I stayed in the moment and appreciated it for what is was rather than dwell on my past hurts.
  • After that I went with another of my friends to Michael’s to buy frames for my new prints.  It was my lucky day there!  All of the frames were half-off and I found two that were perfect.  My friend and I had a fun time chatting and hunting for stuff for new craft projects.  Again, I was grateful that I was able to enjoy the time with my friend and stay mindful of the good time I was having.

Bernadette's prints

  • I came home to a nice dinner that Austin made, and spent some time with my stepson before he had to leave to go back to his mom’s.  I love the dinners that the three of have together.  It’s really the only time that we use our dining room table (Austin and I usually eat in the living room while we watch shows) and the conversations, while eventually always turning to something gross – I guess that’s what happens when there are two boys at the table – are more focused and meaningful than the typical ones throughout the weekend.  I really like that, and I am grateful for it.

So, my Saturday was filled with friends, fun, family and beautiful things.  How was yours?

Gratitude – July 23

Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Wednesday!  It was a good day today, with much to be grateful for.  It was much like yesterday, and the day before, uneventful, no drama and, really kind of predictable.  I really appreciate looking for, and finding, things to be grateful for on uneventful days.  It takes more careful observation throughout the day and reflection in the evening.  I like that.  It’s like replaying my day, focusing on all of the great things that happened.  That’s a nice thing to do before bedtime. 🙂

So, here’s my list for today:

  • I am grateful I have so many wonderful friends at work; they brighten my day.  I love the breaks that we take to chat and catch up throughout the work day.  There is always laughter and smiles in my office.
  • I am grateful that this week has been a reprieve from the workload of the previous two weeks.  I have even had enough time to really clean and declutter my office, and now it looks fantastic!  I only wish that I had taken before and after pictures.
  • I am thankful that I haven’t been as tired the last couple of days even though my allergies and sinuses have been bothering me every morning.
  • I am thankful for the month old puppies that are crawling around my living room.  I can just sit and watch them play for hours…they are getting bigger and braver every day.
  • I am grateful for the strawberry shortcake that I made tonight (and had for dinner!).  Tomorrow it’s all salad, all day.
  • I am thankful that by doing my gratitude lists every day (well, almost every day), my mood, perspective, and level of happiness has improved so much.  When I remember how much I have to be thankful for, it always brings me joy.
Austin and puppies

I couldn’t resist posting this picture…see how much I have to be grateful for? 🙂

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what are you grateful for today

Gratitude – July 20

 

help each other

Last night our friends who recently relapsed came over for dinner.  They have a few days of new sobriety under their belts and we thought that it might be nice for them to get out of the house and away from the guilt and shame they were feeling.  We spent several hours talking about alcoholism, recovery, our personal stories, relapse, AA…the list goes on.  It was a wonderful evening, I am so glad that they accepted our offer to come visit with us.  They shared with us what feelings and events lead them back to drinking, and the consequences that resulted.  We shared with them our own tales of relapse and of cleaning up the wreckage.  We talked and laughed, as only we alcoholics do, about things that I know would completely horrify the ‘normies’ out there.  Even after being in recovery for a few years, it still blows me away how quickly people trying to accomplish the same thing – sobriety – can become completely comfortable talking about very intimate things.  We alcoholics bond quickly, I think, because we all share the experience of having lived in the hell that is active alcoholism.  It is not a nice place, even just to visit, and I think that talking about it with others like ourselves helps keep us from going back there.

After our friends left last night, I was thinking a lot about how lucky I was to have spent the evening with them.  I am filled with gratitude that they both opened up to us, shared their feelings and their fears.  I am thankful that I was able to offer my own stories and that helped  put them at ease.  I am also grateful that all of us were able to be completely comfortable being vulnerable with one another.  These days I think that is a beautiful, but rare, thing.

I got a voicemail today from the wife thanking us and saying that it really helped them.  That’s so awesome.  What I don’t know is if they left here knowing how much they helped us.  I’ve written before about keeping it green and remembering my last drunk, but I don’t think that anything helps more than talking to other alcoholics.  That’s why I blog, that’s why I go to meetings, that’s why I have a sponsor and that’s why I sponsor others.  Together with other alcoholics, we can accomplish the very thing that we could never do alone.  For that, I am grateful.

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thankful-what

Gratitude – July 10

Crazy

It was a crazy busy day at work today.  It was full of putting out fires and not getting any of my “real” wok done.   All day long, I was thinking about what I was going to write about tonight.  For the longest time this morning I was thinking that by the end of the day I was going to end up having a post that read, “today I am grateful that the day is over.”  But it turns out that the day gave me many things to be grateful for.  Here are some of the highlights of my day:

  • One of my very good friends that used to be a work study at the school where I work, came in today to finish up some things she needed to do for graduation.   It was great to have her there to catch up with between the chaotic moments.  I am so proud of her for graduating and already getting a job in her field.
  • Today was the last day of classes for students for this term and that meant it was potluck day!  All three of my meals today came from students, and they were all great.  I admit I did some stress eating, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.
  • I got home early enough to watch the season 2 finale of Orange is the New Black without falling asleep in the middle of it.
  • I found out that our friend that is detoxing from heroin (at home, with no medical supervision – his decision) is past the worst of it and was up and around and eating today.
  • I made plans to do yoga with a friend tomorrow evening, and to have lunch with another friend on Saturday.  I am looking forward to both.
  • Lastly, I am grateful that tomorrow is Friday!

I hope that you all had a great Thursday, and that tonight you take some tome to remember all of the things that you are thankful for.

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Please comment with your gratitude for the day.

Please comment with your gratitude for the day.

Please let me off this ride

Spinning-Tree-Dizzy-e1382983438949

Last Thursday I was sitting and having lunch in the breakroom at work.  I was talking to a friend, when I started to feel funny.  I was just finishing a piece of pizza when I began to think that I might faint.  I have fainted before, every time I have to give blood, so I know what that feels like.  But, unlike the times when I have fainted, the darkness around the edges of my vision never came.  The dizziness and unease just stayed.  I felt like a car that was out of alignment, pulling hard to one side.  I didn’t say anything until we got up to head back to work, then I told my friend that I was feeling weird and that if I passed out to please try to keep my head from hitting the ground.  She wasn’t really comfortable with that, so we stopped in a classroom for me to sit on the way.  Luckily, I work at a school that teaches various medical programs.  So one of the instructors came to check my blood pressure (it was fine) and give me the once over.  I could see the concern in her eyes, but after a few minutes I felt better and I went back to work.

As I sat at my desk, I was afraid that there was something really wrong with me, like I was having a stroke or that I had a brain tumor that had been quietly growing and  was just now starting to cause problems.  I can always count on my alcoholic thinking to come up with the worst scenarios!  My coworkers kept a close eye on me throughout the afternoon, and I tried my best to put on a brave face, and to act like everything was ok, that whatever had come over me was some sort of fluke and that it wouldn’t happen again.  I even made jokes about it, trying to minimize the catastrophizing that was going on in my mind.  I was really worried though.

I made it through the afternoon, only having a couple of minor “episodes” of the dizziness.  Each time, I would feel a pulling to my right side and I would feel like I couldn’t sit or stand up straight.  It felt like the room was moving and that I wasn’t ale to keep up with it.  Fortunately, I was sitting down when it happened.  I thought that I would make it through the rest of my work day, it was almost 5:00, when the mother of all dizzy spells hit me.  I panicked.  I didn’t want to yell across the administration area for someone to come help me, so I started trying to dial the extensions of various coworkers, all while I felt like I was going to fall out of my chair.  I couldn’t concentrate on the buttons on the phone with my vision, because I was seeing double, I had to go by feel.  Finally, after several attempts, I got someone and she came running.  It wasn’t long until I had just about every medical program director surrounding me in my office.  I was too dizzy and disoriented to be embarrassed over all of the attention (that would come later, as I was pushed out of the school in a wheelchair), I was absolutely terrified.  They took me into one of the labs that students use to practice their patient technician skills and gathered around me.  Now I really saw looks of concern.  Again, my blood pressure was fine.  They checked my blood sugar, it was fine too.  I was near tears, wondering what the hell was wrong with me when my husband got there.  It was decided that I better go to the emergency room.

My friend that I had been having lunch with earlier and my husband went with me to the hospital.  After waiting for about 3 hours, I was finally taken for a blood test and put in a room, where they started me on an IV.  They did an EKG, and it was fine.  And then they took me for a CT scan, and it was fine.  I was starting to feel a little better, it looked like I hadn’t had a stroke and that there wasn’t a brain tumor.  The doctor came to see me and did some examining, testing my motor skills and such, asking me to stand, balance on one foot, etc. with my eyes closed.  After a bit, he determined that I was experiencing vertigo.

VERTIGO!!!  Wtf?  I thought vertigo was something that little old ladies had from time to time.  Something that made them a little off balance, but that wasn’t really that bad.  I remember my grandmother saying that she needed to take her “dizzy pills” sometimes when I was a kid, but I never remember her being crazy dizzy like I had just been.  I guess I should be thankful that her dizzy pills worked, because the doctor prescribed the same medication for me.

This week I have to go to a balance clinic, so that they can try to determine the cause of my vertigo, and come up with a plan to treat it.  I am not looking forward to it as I understand that in order to determine the cause, they have to induce the vertigo, and I really don’t want that. But I will put on my big girl panties and go.  I just hope that they can fix it.

The good news in all of this is that I really felt how much everyone at work cares for me.  I was terrified and panicky and worried, and in seconds, I was surrounded by concerned friends.  They took care of me and reassured me that everything was going to be alright, held my hands, tried to get me to laugh, and generally helped me through the chaos of the moment.  I am so blessed to have great friends and for that I am very, very grateful.

I would really appreciate hearing other’s experiences with vertigo.  I am concerned that I will have more episodes, and I am really scared.  I have never felt so out of control of my body (and I’m a drunk, for crying out loud!), and I’m filled with anxiety that I will have to feel that again.  Hearing your experience, strength, and hope about this would be really helpful to me.

Normies…they don’t get it.

I’ve been  a part of the recovery community for over two years now (sober for eight months), and I have become so accustomed to interacting with others in the program that I often forget about the normies out there.  Most of the people who I have any kind of relationship with are people who are at least a little bit familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous.  Whether they are in the program or not, they can understand the language of recovery.  Every once in a while, I am reminded that there are people who have never had a problem with drugs or alcohol, so they don’t (can’t) understand what it is to be an addict.

It’s like when someone tells you to “just stop” drinking so much, or they ask “why can’t you just stop?”   How many times, as addicts, have we heard that one?  I can’t even begin to count the number of times my mother said that to me.  That statement, “just stop,”  has become a running joke in my house.  Whenever one of us complains about how we are feeling (physically or emotionally) we ask the other one, “Well, why don’t you just stop?”   It doesn’t matter what it is…could be a headache or stomach ache, a feeling of guilt or despair. Whatever the situation we ask the question and then we both laugh.  Ah, alcoholic humor.  Normies wouldn’t get it.

I am very open about my alcoholism at work.  My coworkers all know that I go to an AA meeting nearly every day, and that I take my recovery very seriously, even though I make  jokes about it sometimes.  I have a lot of love and support at my job, and I know I am very lucky to have it.  That said, this morning I was very surprised, and kind of amused, to be reminded that normies think differently than addicts do.  I talked to a coworker about exercise when I saw her leaving work in gym clothes yesterday.  She lauded the benefits of working out, and I told her that I knew that I needed to get my big, fat butt in gear and do some kind of exercise myself.  Then, this morning she came into my office to tell me about her Zumba class last night.  She talked about making a commitment to exercise, and I agreed that it takes commitment and likened it to me going to meetings. That’s when she so graciously explained to me that if I would get a fitness regimen and stick to it, I would no longer need AA meetings. She went on to say that I would feel so good about myself that I wouldn’t even have to think about drinking or not drinking. She was very adamant about it.  I thanked her for her advice, but told her that I will always need meetings because I don’t want to ever drink again.  She told me to just try working out everyday and cutting down on my meetings.  I smiled and nodded and she went on her way.  The whole thing was rather funny to me, and I thought to myself that normies just don’t get it.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of some things my mom said when I got out of rehab the first time.  For the first few weeks she was like the meeting police, asking me repeatedly if I had gone to meetings and when I was planning on going to another.  I struggled with going as a lot of newcomers do.  A few weeks later I had made some friends, shared at meetings a couple of times, and was beginning to really get something out of meetings.  One evening my mom wanted me to come over and I told her that I couldn’t because I was headed to a meeting.  I thought she would be happy about it, but she said “how much longer are you going to have to do those meetings?”  Like I would suddenly be cured within a few weeks!  My mom, although she has a lot of addictive behaviors, is a normie when it comes to booze.  She doesn’t get it.

One of the most blatant examples of normies not getting it happened to me not that long ago.  A friend of mine who knows I’m in recovery, knows about my visit to rehab last year, and has supported me through my struggles, and applauded my successes, did something that really opened my eyes to the differences between the way recovering alcoholics and normies view alcohol.  My friend often shops at specialty food stores and she likes to share fancy chocolate candy with everyone.  One day she offered me a piece of chocolate, and of course I accepted (please refer to the fat butt comment above).  I took a bite of the candy and it tasted like it had alcohol in it.  I asked my friend and she said yes, it was a rum filling.  She said it and then a look of realization spread across her face.  But in an instant it was gone and she said, “well it’s alright, isn’t it?  It’s only candy.”  In my mind, at that instant, I felt like I may as well have taken a shot of tequila.  I had all of these panicky thoughts about whether this meant I would have to reset my sobriety date (I didn’t), what if it triggered me to want to drink (it didn’t), what was my friend thinking giving an alcoholic a rum filled candy, why didn’t she think it was as big of a deal as it seemed to me?  I called my husband, and I called my sponsor and they calmed me down.  They both said that my friend just didn’t think about it before giving me that candy.  What the whole thing taught me is that booze is just not a big deal to normies.  They can take it or leave it, the thought of drinking it or of not drinking it doesn’t consume them, they haven’t had a love/hate relationship with booze.  It’s just a thing to them.  They don’t get what it is to be an alcoholic.

I hope I haven’t said anything out of line or offensive to any non-alcoholics out there, that is not my intention.  I have a number of normie friends that are super supportive, loving and they do understand where I’m coming from.  I am truly blessed to have them in my life.  But there are a lot too, that just don’t get it.