Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cycle of Life

My mom called me on Tuesday to tell me me a close friend of hers (and of our family) had died of lung cancer. It was quite a shock; I hadn't even known she was ill.

This lady was my mother's best friend all through high school, and they kept in touch throughout the years since. They both got married while still in high school, and had their first babies within six weeks of each other. When my parents eloped, Faye and her husband were the witnesses at their little civil ceremony, and Faye took the only exisiting snapshots of their nuptials.

When I was growing up, my great-grandfather lived in Fort Meyers, and whenever my family visited him, we'd head over to north Miami to visit Faye and her family for a few days, too. Faye's daughter was six weeks older than me, and even though we saw each other very infrequently, we shared a bond.

I called my mother yesterday to discuss Thanksgiving plans, and she told me that she'd found out that Faye's visitation was scheduled for that evening in the town next to us. I said I'd go and pay my respects.

I went about the day, not really feeling anything one way or the other about Faye's death. As I said, it was a shock, but I hadn't seen her or any of her family for years. My last conversation with her was when she called me to tell me she and her husband would not be able to attend my parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

R was watching the news, and I decided to go and drop off my prescriptions at Walgreens, so they'd be ready to pick up when we went out later. I got to the pharmacy and couldn't find the prescriptions. I came home and searched frantically for them, and became convinced that they must have fallen out of my purse and been thrown in the trash and Walgreens.

I had a total meltdown, crying hysterically, and telling myself how stupid and irresponsible and disorganized I was, inwardly seething at R for refusing to get involved in my drama. I was aware that my emotional outburst had nothing to do with the actual circumstances of losing my prescriptions (which of course, I had misplaced and found later), but I couldn't pinpoint what the true cause was.

It wasn't until I saw my friend that I understood that my emotions were grief and fear. Grief for the loss of someone who had impacted my life, and who had been such an important part of my mother's life. Grief for my friend's loss of her mother. Fear of feeling uncomfortable, of not having the right words to say. Fear of the reality of death, and the prospect of losing my own parents. Faye was a year and a half younger than my mother, and she's dead. I still think of my mom as being relatively young (she's only 19 years older than I am), but the fact is she's 70 now. My dad is 70 now. I'm older, and they're older, and death is part of the cycle of life.

I am so thankful that I went last night, and was there for J, my friend. When I walked in, she said, "Do I recognize that face? Is that a face for me?" We hugged and held each other. Even though it had been years since we'd seen one another, that connection was still there. We shared memories and tears and laughter.

I am so grateful for the gift of sobriety, even though it means I have to feel my emotions and deal with them, rather than ignoring and numbing them. When I was drinking, I would not have gone. I would have been overwhelmed with the emotions I couldn't identify and would have wanted to obliterate them immediately. I would have drunk, maybe just a little to calm my nerves at first, but I would have gotten too drunk to go.

Instead, I was able to go and support my friend. Thank you, God.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Hear Voices

As of right now, it's been 4 days, 13 hours, 9 minutes and 26 seconds since I've smoked a cigarette, which totals 90 cigarettes not smoked, and $22.50 saved (I smoked expensive cigarettes). That's enough for a pedicure! I guess I can afford to treat myself to one! :)

It feels so easy right now. It's like, "Oh yeah, this is a piece of cake. I'm a non-smoker now. I can do this for the rest of my life, no problem."

Only, I'm an alcoholic and addict. And this is the voice of my addiction. I have names for all its various guises, and this one is Nikki.

Nikki wants to lull me into a false sense of security, pride and grandiosity, to make me think that I can do anything I put my mind to, and then, when I've become complacent and non-vigilant, and I'm most vulnerable or least expecting it, she'll tell me it's okay to smoke just one cigarette, that I deserve it because of whatever I'm going through at the moment, and AT LEAST IT'S NOT AS BAD AS DRINKING!

Whether it's Al, Nikki, Edy, or whatever other guise my addiction assumes, I have to be ready, and I have to be able to recognize it for what it is. So, for this alcoholic and addict, vigilance, awareness, prayer and reliance on my Higher Power and the support of others is key. Without having those factors in my life, and without working a good 12-step program, I'm lost.

Thank God, for this fellowship and this program, which teaches us HOW to live, and gives us the desire to do so!