“Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you” – Maori Proverb

sunI’ve been absent from this blog space for awhile – wow, since April! – but I’ve continued reading other blogs and living solidly in recovery. I think it’s time for me to recommit to posting at least monthly, because I know how helpful it is to read about the lives of others with years behind them. If this blog has a primary goal, it’s to inspire people who still struggle to create a rewarding life without the buzz. So here’s what I’ve been up to.

What I’ve survived so far this year:

February – My amazing mom died unexpectedly.

March – My “baby” brother went through detox and treatment for heroin addiction. My youngest son, 18, moved out of the house.

April – June – I helped clear my mom’s house and put it on the market. Sold the new car she’d bought to celebrate her successful cancer surgery just months before she died suddenly of something else. I did my best to remain the strong oldest daughter in support of my siblings.

July – A visit to my 84 year old dad made it clear that his days of independent living are numbered and he needs help with a transition.

August – Closing on my mom’s house; time to distribute the proceeds of her estate. Delayed grief creeps in.

Throughout all of this, I continued working a full-time job, a part-time job, and began a volunteer job.

How life is better now than it was 3 years ago, despite recent challenges:

I don’t take things personally. Each person on this earth is living their unique existence as they best know how. As I cross paths with others, there will be points of connection both positive and negative, but my existence is peripheral to theirs.

I allow other people their experiences and space. I try to tread lightly.

I don’t waste (much) time feeling righteously indignant. (“What gives him the right to be angry at me?”) I jump more quickly to accountability. (“How could I have handled this communication differently?”) I respect myself more when I do this, and it becomes easier each time.

I establish limits and boundaries. I pause before making a commitment and have a small conversation with myself. My decisions are more thoughtful and less squishy.

I move through my sadness, and sometimes I move slowly. I allow myself to live with my feelings as long as I continue to do the next right thing.

I follow my interests. I didn’t know that making hand-stamped jewelry would be rewarding until I was inspired to try it. Now it’s an activity that blends into my life and gives new opportunities for sharing.

I’m grateful every day and I share that gratitude with a group of sober women like me.

I embrace cherish my sobriety and don’t take it for granted. Protecting it is my highest priority. From that foundation, not drinking is easy.

Have you been put to the test in recovery and survived it as a better person? Please share!

 

 

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Not my first trip to the rodeo

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Today I dredged up the first post from my first sober blog, written over 4 years ago, and I present it to you here with all of its raw attitude:

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Monday, September 21, 2009

My name is Ginny and ok, fine, so I’m an alcoholic

Whatever.

Today I’m not going to drink and I’m kind of pissed off about it.

[Hubby] has been hounding me to quit/cut way back for a long time.

I’ve been digging my heels in the sand because I refuse to quit for HIM. He thinks I’m wrong about everything.  Almost everything I do is criticized and nothing is appreciated. Reason enough to reach for another drink. Or two. Make that one a double.

I’m sick of the conversation. With him. And in my own head.

I’ll quit, but on my terms. I’ll do it for ME, not him.

These are MY 12 reasons for not drinking alcohol today:

  1. Save my long-term health. I intend to live to 95 and enjoy an active life with my grandkids. Dying of liver disease or cancer at 60 would not allow that, would it?
  2. Control my destiny. I don’t like the fact that it has such a hold on me that I can’t say no to it when I know I should. Fuck you, Windsor. You are not the boss of me.
  3. Set a better example for my kids who are all prone to this disease. I just saw an up-close and dangerous example of the perils when son #1 passed out in public on a trip to another city. This is not ok.
  4. Fewer daily calories. I want to lose the belly fat and no amount of healthy eating or exercising helps while I load up on alcohol each night.
  5. Ability to face each new day with more clarity and energy. I’m more functional and productive than most sober people, but I could be even better without the cloud.
  6. More time and attention for other evening activities. I can go more places if I’m not drinking, read more books, play more games, take on hobbies, start running. And more.
  7. Less time with head in the sand. Procrastination, ignoring taxes, bills, not being organized (“la-la-la-la I can’t hear you”) is having serious consequences.
  8. Heightened consciousness about the state of my marriage. The ability to figure out once and for all if he’s the crazy one or if I am.
  9. To show [Hubby] that I can do it. He thinks that he’s stronger than me because he cut back to beer and wine? Watch me. I can stop altogether.
  10. Save money – probably $25/week. In a year I can have that leather sofa I want.
  11. Avoid those unexpected changes in attitude that turn me into a nasty bitch. No one likes her.
  12. Give me a feeling of pride so I don’t have to work 3 jobs for personal validation.

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This was the start of one of my more successful runs at sobriety. It lasted over 30 days and I was doing really well until I decided that, well, maybe I wasn’t really an alcoholic after all, and, um, maybe I’d just take a break from blogging. Yeah.

I spent another two years figuring out that I needed to quit. Maybe my denial was so strong that even 40 years of dysfunctional behavior wasn’t quite enough to convince me. I had to get back in the saddle and get bucked around for another couple of years before I’d let reality sink in.

Now, after almost 2 years sober I wonder, “Who was that crabby drunk?”

I’m a different person, for sure. Defiance has turned to humility and compassion. All of my hopes for sobriety came true, and then some.

If you’ve tried and failed, you’re not alone. Never quit quitting. Freedom awaits, and it’s so worth it.