“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!

 

 


$3,825 (but who’s counting?)

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When I first quit drinking, I installed a simple free app on my phone called “Quitter”. It allows me to track the time elapsed since my last drink and the money I’ve saved. I made a guess that I was spending $6 per day when I set it up, which is probably pretty close to accurate. That’s the equivalent of one bottle of inexpensive wine, two bottles of Trader Joe’s 3 Buck wine, half of a fifth (would that be a tenth?) of Canadian whiskey or vodka, or a 6 pack of beer.

In the beginning, I checked my progress on this app a lot as reinforcement. I also kept a small notebook with me and wrote each day how I was feeling, any triggers I encountered, and rated myself on a “craving scale”, complete with little hand-drawn smiley or sad faces. These tools helped through some long, uncomfortable days.

It’s been a long time now since I’ve looked at the app or used the daily notebook. Over time, success in sobriety becomes its own reinforcement and widget-dependence diminishes.

Today I noticed that as the days tick along, the savings have become significant! Since I don’t actually have those dollars sitting in a savings account or a piggy bank, I’m reflecting on what I’ve done with the money I formerly invested in poisoning myself.

-Ingestible substitutes – I have to admit that for a time I became a little bit addicted to a beverage called Sparkling Ice. At $1/bottle, it satisfied the need to have something fizzy or fruity to sip in the evening. Then there was the ice cream, candy and other assorted sweets, but altogether, I’d call it a reasonable financial trade-off.  And even with the junk eating, I’ve lost weight.

-Travel – I LOVE to travel but could never find the extra money for it so I rarely went anywhere. Since I quit drinking, I’ve taken two road trips with my kids and two plane trips to see my dad. I was also able to finance a trip for my dad and step-mom to attend a family wedding before she died of cancer.

-Debt reduction – I’m not debt-free by any means, but at least I’m able to keep up with payments, eliminating a huge source of stress.

-Rewards – If I see something I want to buy for myself – jewelry, clothing, shoes, books – I give myself permission to do it! I’m worth it.

Of course, it’s not about the money. That’s just a nice side benefit.

The sense of peace and the growth I’ve experienced as a human being?

Well, that’s priceless.