What a Difference a Year Makes


Today is my birthday – my belly-button birthday, as it’s called in the program.  I am officially 42 years old.  I have always found that birthdays are a time of reflection, and today is not an exception.  I’m not so much looking at the whole of my 42 years, as I am reflecting on just the last year.  What a difference a year can make!!

Last year at this time I was trying to navigate a very slippery slope, not very successfully.  I was caught in the downward spiral of grief and sadness and self-pity.  My husband, sensing that I was feeling down about not being able to spend my birthday with my family, reached out to some of them.  It did not go well.  At that time, I still had hope that there would be, at some point, a reconciliation of some kind.  That door was shut, and my hope was dashed.  At first, I thought that it was actually a good thing to have my hope squashed.  Living a life full of waiting seemed much more painful than just dealing with the closure that their rejection provided. But, as it turns out, I was devastated.  And so I did what any good alcoholic would do:  I hid my feelings, put on a game face, tried not to feel, and when that didn’t work, I drank.  I threw away the sober time I had because I wasn’t willing to deal with my feelings.

I got drunk on four weekends in a row.  I would sober up for the work week, tell myself that I was done drinking and then get drunk again on the weekend.  I couldn’t go on that way, I knew that.  So I made the decision to go back to treatment.  It was the best decision I could’ve made.  Once I got to the treatment center, I made up my mind that this time was going to be different.  I knew that in order to deal with my feelings I had to be honest, I had to learn to forgive, and I had to learn how to accept things the way they were.  I wrote about those things when I had eight months sober, you can read about it here.

So now, a year after the beginning of the end of my drinking, how are things different?  I’m not afraid of my feelings.  When negative emotions come up, I don’t try to hide.  I know that things are the way they are, and if I can’t change them, I let them go.  I am honest with the people in my life.  While I feel sadness and grief sometimes, I don’t wallow.  I use the tools I’ve learned in the program.  I’m grateful for what I have, and who I have in my life, and I let them know it.  I feel comfortable being me.  I even like me, most days.

It occurs to me that the biggest difference on this birthday is….I’m happy.

It’s a happy birthday!

Who would’ve thought?

Maybe 42 is going to be a good year.  🙂




I hate to be late.  For anything.  As a matter of fact, I like to be early.  For everything.  I also hate it when other people are late.  I was in management for over 15 years, and the very first thing I told my new employees was, “Tardiness is my pet peeve, please be on time.”   I’m not sure where my craziness about being on time comes from, but the story that I tell myself is:  people who are late are arrogant…they think that whatever it is they are doing is more important than what they are supposed to be doing.  And I don’t want to be arrogant.

I call my feelings about being late ‘craziness’ because there are times that I am completely irrational about watching the clock.  I am sometimes obsessive and anxiety-ridden until I arrive wherever I am supposed to be, early.  And the truth is, I am rarely ever actually late for anything.  Of course, the ‘craziness’ says that the only reason for that is because I am so diligent in my clock-watching.  If I let my guard down, who knows what will happen!?!  Clearly I would miss all of my appointments, I would get fired from my job, friends would be stranded, cursing me for making them wait.  Disaster would prevail.

Now you see why I call it craziness.

Mornings are the worst, because I am married to a very laid back, I’ll-get-to-it-when-I-get-to-it kind of guy.  Not that he’s late for things (he’s been trained after all), he just doesn’t get amped up about time like I do.  We go to a 6:45 a.m. meeting most mornings, and the 15 minutes before I want to leave are pretty much always the same.  Keep in mind that the time I want to leave gets us to the meeting a good 20-25 minutes before it starts.  Anyway, it goes like this:  I’m almost ready to go, maybe just have my hair to dry, and I stick my head out the front door where my honey sits reading the news on his laptop while having his coffee.  “Ok Handsome, it’s time for you to come in and get ready.”  He always responds, “I’ll be right in.”  And then the clock starts ticking louder and louder.  As I blow-dry my hair, I strain to hear if the front door is opening.  Sometimes he does come right in, and life is good.  But other times, he finishes whatever article he’s reading (the nerve!) and I start to panic.  Sometimes there is a second trip to the front door…sometimes a third.  I don’t know why I do this, it takes him about 4 minutes to get ready, and we nearly always leave at the time I have designated.  I have tried not making that trip to the front door, and you know what?  My husband still comes in, gets ready, and we leave on time.

So why can’t I leave it alone?  I think it’s because of that one time out of a hundred, when I am actually late for something, the fear of being perceived as arrogant (I mean that’s what I, myself, think, others must feel the same, right?), is too difficult for me to deal with.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t be worried about what others think.  And in most cases, I’m not.  I guess this is just another character defect that needs some attention. 🙂

I just read this post to my husband.  He laughed and said, “it sounds kinda silly when you write it down, doesn’t it?”  And he’s right.  It does.  So tomorrow, I am not going to be the Clock Nazi.  I will remain calm.  Oh wait.  I have to be to work early tomorrow….I’ll start Tuesday.