Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We Will Be Amazed . . .

. . . before we are halfway through.

WOW! Are those words ever true.

The Promises. Into Action.

They are coming true for me, and I'm nowhere NEAR halfway through!

Today, I have 9 and a half months sober and recovering, and I'm once again a productive, contributing member of society! Who knew?!

Last week, I heard from my sponsor about someone else in our Monday night meeting who needed a part-time receptionist, and by Friday, I'd talked to her about the position, updated and submitted my resume, interviewed, was offered and accepted the job! I started my new job this past Monday, and I LOVE it. I love having the structure in my life. I love feeling like I'm part of something and am able to contribute positively to a team effort. And I love saying things like, "I'll stop by the grocery store on the way home from work."

Life is good.

On top of this good news, my therapist (who is AWESOME) has made time in her schedule to see me on Saturday afternoons from now on.

  • I'm connected to God (my Higher Power), and consciously make contact with Him every morning
  • I have a JOB!
  • I have a relationship with my husband, which is continuing to heal and grow
  • I have friends inside and outside of the Program
  • I have a closer relationship with my family
  • I have the most amazing sponsor
  • I have an awesome therapist
  • I have peace and serenity which used to elude me
  • I trust God with my future instead of needing to control it, or fear it
What more could a recovering alcoholic ask for?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Morning Meditations

When I first started coming to AA over 3 years ago, I was angry, resentful and bitter toward God (as well as toward a lot of other people, events, and circumstances in my life, past and present). The thing is, I didn't even realize it. I knew I was cut off, disconnected and dead spiritually, but I felt like God had abandoned me, turned his back on me, and I was too angry, depressed and mired in my disease to even know how to begin to make my way back to him, or even to have the desire to do so.

Even while I was still trapped in my distorted thinking and drowning in self-pity, self-loathing, and self-righteousness, God had NOT abandoned me, and was still working all things together for good on my behalf. Somehow, when I was finally ready to seek the help I needed to confront my alcoholism, he brought people into my life who sang the praises of a particular treatment center in West Palm Beach.

It was not a "Christian" treatment center, but one that took a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on the medical, relational, and spiritual components, incorporating them into the 12 Steps. I didn't want to go to a treatment center that looked upon alcoholism and addiction as a sin that I should be able to control, and I feared I might encounter that approach at places other than the one I chose.

I was exactly where I needed to be. My therapists and my spiritual counselors are women who were able to gently guide me into the realization that God had not abandoned me at all, and that he was only waiting for me to walk forward into his embrace. When this realization came, for the very first time, I finally understood what surrender is.

I don't have to carry the burden of my disease by myself. There is One who is always with me, always walking beside me, lightening the load.

And when I grow too weary to move another step, he is the One who carries me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

All By Myself (Don't Wanna Be)

I woke up this morning feeling almost hungover. I had a pounding headache centered behind my eyes, which throbbed even more every time I bent my head forward. In my first attempt to make coffee, I forgot to put the carafe under the filter cone, and coffee poured out all over the kitchen counter (thank God for paper towels!).

I haven't felt this way or been this clouded in the morning since I quit drinking, and I think I know why I woke up feeling like this today. Yesterday, after we ate a late breakfast of waffles with maple syrup, my husband left for a three-day conference up in Orlando. Left to my own devices, and having no one to prepare meals for, I munched on dark chocolate M&Ms, Wheat Thins, prepackaged jello and fruit, and then topped it off around 11:30 pm with some frozen yogurt. The only protein I had was a few bites of chicken, pulled off the remains of the rotisserie chicken we'd eaten the previous evening, and I had no veggies of any kind the entire day. This morning, my "hangover" was most likely a result of a virtually all sugar diet. It began to subside significantly after I drank a cup of coffee, which it just dawned on me was probably also a factor: caffeine deprivation. I usually drink anywhere from 3 to 6 cups of coffee a day, and I only had one yesterday morning.

Enough about that.

What I really need to get off my chest is this: This is the first time I've been alone for more than a few hours since I got sober in April. I was depressed and outright fearful yesterday, which probably contributed to my mindless junk food munching.

Not afraid of being without R. Afraid of being alone, with myself. It took me a while to identify my fear. At first, I thought it was just the memory of previous times R's gone out of town. His trips were something I looked forward to, because I could drink and veg out in front of the TV. I used to obsess about what I would drink, planning to try new wines and special cocktails, and usually just ended up drinking straight vodka. How would I handle it now that I'm not drinking? What if I ended up drinking? I'm so close to 9 months, and I sure don't want to blow it.

But then, I realized, it's not really that I'm afraid I'll drink. I mean, there's always that fear, at the back of my mind, and I think it's a healthy one that keeps me from becoming cocky and complacent. I know what I have to do, and I'm doing it (calling and meeting with my sponsor, talking about my fears, journaling, going to meetings, hanging with sober friends, going for my outpatient activities, etc.).

The greater and more honest fear is just being alone with myself. I've never enjoyed being alone, because being with myself used to be painful. I didn't like or love myself, and I couldn't stand being alone, but I didn't want to be around anyone else either. I couldn't believe anyone else really would like me, if they knew the real me, and always being "on" and maintaining the facade I presented to the world was exhausting. So, I isolated and drank and told myself I preferred being alone, and I even believed it for a long while.

Today, I need to learn how to enjoy being alone with myself, and this is actually a wonderful opportunity to do just that. And I'm not really alone. My Higher Power is always with me. I can be alone, and not be lonely. I can appreciate and develop my character strengths, while I continue to identify and work on my defects. I am beginning to love myself, and to even like myself, but it is indeed progress, not perfection at this point.

I am learning that I can just be, and that is truly one of the miracles of recovery.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy Sober New Year!

We just got back late last night from holidays spent first with R's and my family in Atlanta (Christmas), and then with my family in Raleigh (New Year's). We drove the entire way, which was 12 hours to Atlanta, 8 hours to Raleigh, and then 14 hours returning from Raleigh to South Florida. And I didn't want to drink or kill anyone!

Road trips used to make me REALLY crazy, but I'm finding that I can now relax and just be, and not feel (so) pressured to always be adhering to some imaginary schedule or someone's phantom expectations. Progress, not perfection. I've got so much work to do in preparation for my outpatient activities, and I'm anxious to get back to my meetings and reconnect with my friends here.

I did go to a fabulous meeting while in Raleigh (one I had visited while there at Thanksgiving) and felt right at home. I guess that will be my home-away-from-home meeting there! Cool.

One of the most amazing gifts of this program is my relationship with my parents, and their awareness, understanding and compassion for other alcoholics. Shortly after I finished my inpatient treatment, my Mama and Daddy were able to offer one of their employees, who has struggled with his alcoholism for years, the chance to enroll in a similar program. "C" had just returned home a couple of weeks prior to our visit, so when I saw him at my parents' office, I suggested we go to a meeting together, which we did. So now I have a buddy there, too! How cool is that?!

I have SO MUCH to be grateful for, and I AM grateful, as this year begins.
  • No early morning guilt, shame and nausea.
  • No wondering what I did or what I said the night before.
  • Relationships that are changing, growing, and thriving.
  • Trust being rebuilt.
  • Real honesty.
  • Appreciation for my family and their amazing love and patience.
  • My friends (including my awesome sponsor) in the program.
  • My family.
  • My husband.
  • The Promises.
  • The Miracle.
  • My growing relationship with my Higher Power, and my growing ability to trust Him.
  • The certainty that my Higher Power loves and accepts me just as I am today, which means I can love and accept myself, imperfect as I am.
  • Way too much to list here right now, but WOW!!!! What a great way to face the New Year. Sober, joyful and free!