“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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Letting Go

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The view from the window of the room where my mom died on 2/19/14

Inspired by Christy and her theme-word at Running on Sober, at the beginning of January I chose a theme-phrase for 2014: Letting Go.

I chose it to guide me in building an open attitude to new possibilities. Embracing the new often means letting go of what no longer works.

One month ago today I had to let go in a way I hadn’t imagined. My mom died after a very brief and sudden illness. Gathered in a hospital room with close family, I was forced to say good-bye to the woman who has been my hero, my mentor, my friend.

I’ll never stop missing her, but I’m allowing gratitude to overpower wishes and regrets.

Near the top of my gratitude list is the fact that my mom knew about my sobriety and was proud of me.

As we gathered to write my mom’s obituary, highlighting her many years of volunteer service, I was aware of a looming deadline. On the day of her memorial service, my Recovery Coach Academy application was due.

I submitted the application, went to the interview, and I’ve been accepted. I’m going to become a volunteer Peer Recovery Coach. I welcome the opportunity to honor my mom and her legacy of service in this way.

I’ve missed a lot of work during this month of grieving, funeral planning, estate activities, attending to siblings’ needs, and subsequent illness. More letting go, letting it be what it is, doing what needs to be done, letting others step in when I need them.

Through it all, I’m sober. I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and I’m seeing clearly the next right thing to do. It’s not easy. But facing the feelings is so much better than looking for relief at the bottom of a bottle.

Today it’s been 2 years, 2 months and 22 days since my last drink.