Friday, November 19, 2010

Please Pray

I'm leading our 5:30 meeting this afternoon.  As usual, I'm putting WAAAAY too much thought into this - how I'm going to do it, what I'm going to do and say, what I should wear, whether I should I wash my hair, or if it would be good to take in some "visuals," etc., etc. ad nauseum

Please pray that I will be STILL and LISTEN for the words my HP wants me to speak.

Please pray that I will not feel I have to speak, but that I can instead allow others who NEED to speak do so.

Please pray that I'll focus on the people there, and the purpose for which we're there, instead of on my own insecurities.

Please pray that I don't try to make this about me, either in my own head, or (especially!) in the meeting.

Please pray that I will be humble, transparent and teachable, that I will be a vessel for the wisdom that comes from that One in whom I've placed my trust and hope.

Please pray that I will be sensitive and compassionate, especially to anyone who is struggling, and especially to the newcomer.

Please pray that I will grow through this experience, but that my pride and ego won't.

Please pray.  God knows I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Then God Shows Up

How perfect is this?!
Note cards for the chronically insecure - aka ME!
 As I was concluding the post As Sick as Our Secrets, my husband walked into the room.  I quickly minimized the screen, and turned my chair to face him.  "Baby, I'm really worried about our finances," he said.

A rush of emotions flooded me: guilt, shame, remorse, and RELIEF.

"I know you are, sweetie.  And I need to tell you something that's been eating at me and tearing me apart the past few days."

In a rush, I confessed to him about the spending spree, told him that I realized it was triggered by my own issues of insecurity and lack of self-worth, and that I had in fact just written a blog post confronting that truth, and that I had been afraid to tell him, that I'd wanted to "fix it" before facing him, but knew I needed to be honest and accountable with him NOW.

He was, of course, concerned about the actual spending.  But more importantly, he was grateful for the honesty, and that I really do want to confront this HUGE character defect and begin taking the steps I need to overcome it, and to rout out the deeper issues that are manifesting in this behavior that hurts both of us.

We hugged, then made breakfast together, sat down and ate, and I got ready for a Saturday morning meeting and went, very late, but went, nonetheless (chronic tardiness: another HUGE character defect I need to confront and overcome!). 
I am going up to Germantown either later today, or most likely, tomorrow to return most of the items I bought in my frenzied online shopping spree.

Most of the items.  That bothers me.  If these were purchases made in haste and panic, if I would not have purchased these items if I hadn't felt pressured to have something new to wear to a wedding I thought we were attending, WHY do I feel I NEED any of the things I bought?  The truth is, I don't NEED any of them; I WANT them.

The impending wedding was the catalyst, the motivator, the EXCUSE I needed to prompt me to buy what I coveted, and once I gave into the desire, it was just like a drinking spree: there was no controlling or stopping the desire and the resulting tornado of action in my carrying it out.

So, the real reason that I haven't returned anything, that I'm putting it off still another day (most likely, tomorrow) is that I don't want to part with those things which VERY BRIEFLY gave me some sense of peace, worthiness, joy and serenity, however false.

Because, I still don't feel that I am worthy, or deserving of joy, peace and serenity.  I don't feel that I am ENOUGH by myself, without something outside myself to validate myself.  I am still sick.

Last night at a meeting, we celebrated a beautiful woman's first "birthday."  For 6 years, she had been in and out of the rooms.  She is a wife, a mother, and a truly beautiful person, both on the outside and the inside.  She has a caring, generous spirit, and a serenity that is attractive to the newcomer and the oldtimer alike.

At least, that's what I SEE.  What she shared is quite different, and more in sync with my view of myself.  She may APPEAR to have it all together to those outside looking in, but she knows, and her Higher Power knows, what she is on the inside, what her struggles are, and how fleeting the serenity actually can be as she goes through her busy days, how she still wants to crowd the world out at times by taking a quick drink.

But she doesn't take that drink, has not for a year.  And, by her own admission, her life is better today than it has been since she can remember.  Because she is taking action, doing the next right thing, and working a complete, thorough, and HONEST program.  Because she has quit lying to herself and to others, and has chosen to expose and confront her secrets.

Her secrets do not have power over her when she shares them with others.  She can then examine them and take the action needed to eliminate the domination they have had over her for so long.

I used to sit in meetings and when a person with a LOT more sobriety would say to me "Thanks, you kept me sober today," I would seethe with anger and hurt pride.  What the HELL did that mean?  I think I'm beginning to see that when someone with less time or the same time or more time shares honestly and completely, when they are transparent and vulnerable, it allows me to see myself, my character defects, my self will run riot, and it makes me want to confront what is dark and hidden, what will keep me sick, and to expose it and attack it.

I think that's what it means.  If another alcoholic's story allows me to see my own faults and areas needing work, if a newcomer causes me to want to be more honest and to take action, that keeps me sober.

I'm getting tired of being at a standstill in my recovery and in my spiritual growth.  I want to take the hard look, do the hard work, and really begin to move forward and to grow.  I have over 3 years sober, and I've never sponsored anyone, never been asked, and never offered.  I am ashamed of this fact.  I know my HP can use me just as I am to help another alcoholic, and I pray that He will today, but I want to become so much more than I am today, and I'm praying, too, that He'll help me to not only SEE what I need to do, but that He'll give me the courage and the wisdom to GET OFF MY BUTT and take the action needed to get out of my own way.

Change is scary, growth is scary; messing with the status quo is scary.  But, it's also GOOD.

What's that saying? Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Here's to change.  Wish me luck.  No, wait, wish me COURAGE and WISDOM!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weird, Wild Stuff (warning: not a serious post)

Submitted for your consideration, an ordinary, middle-aged couple move to another state... a state where neither have lived previously... yet a state strangely familiar... Pam and Roy have just moved to . . .

  • Mississippi's state flower is the Magnolia.  My first ever online password was "magnolia" (NO, I no longer use this ANYWHERE, so don't even try it).
  • Mississippi's state bird is the Mockingbird. One of my favorite Southern authors is Harper Lee, and To Kill a Mockingbird has always been one of my fave books and movies (L-O-V-E Gregory Peck in this role - his absolute best IMHO).  On the other hand, I canNOT STAND that song by Carly Simon! [*shudder*]
  • I now live in a subdivision named Twelve Oaks, which was the name of Ashley's family estate in Gone With The Wind, my ALL TIME favorite Southern book and movie (I don't usually list it in my online profile information 'cuz it's gotten a little controversial, which is stupid.  You can't judge a movie from the 30's by 21st century political views!!)
  • To continue with the GWTW thing or theme, I live on Scarlett Drive, and Scarlett O'Hara has ALWAYS been my secret heroine and role model. I mean, here she was supposed to be this prim and proper Southern belle and to behave accordingly, but she knew how to get what she wanted and did what it took! I think it's that rebellious, independent, "I'll show you!" attitude I identify with and admire. Hopefully, it's not her selfishness and ruthless narcissism!
  • Last but not least: I named my car "Bonnie Blue" years ago, after Bonnie Blue Butler, Scarlett and Rhett's daughter (who dies tragically in a riding accident). "Bonnie Blue" is the name of one of the streets in our neighborhood (!!!)
OMG!! Can you freakin' BELIEVE this?

Dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh-dooh (that's supposed to be the theme music from The Twilight Zone TV show.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

As Sick As Our Secrets

My stomach is in a knot,  I feel nauseated, anxious and apprehensive.  I actually feel as if I've been on bender, and now I've woken up, groggy, panicked and wondering how much damage I've done and how I can fix it before it gets any worse.

This is all my own doing.  I'm filled with guilt, remorse and regret about spending over $1,000 in the course of 2 days, ordering items online in duplicate sizes, various styles, etc.  All for a wedding it turns out we're NOT attending.

Damage control.  Must get these items back to the stores and get refunds on the 3 different credit cards I used BEFORE my husband sees the bills, or gets a call from a creditor inquiring about "unusual activity."

I did hesitate at first, or at least before making the first purchase.  Actually waited and agonized for a couple of days, but then I allowed the fear of not having the "right" thing to wear (OK, let's be RIGOROUSLY HONEST here: not having something NEW that made me feel "special") take over and ignite the spark that set the fire ablaze.

COVET, SPEND, ACQUIRE, COVET, SPEND, ACQUIRE, COVET... It is an endless and, indeed, vicious cycle.

Yes, I can still do some "damage control," even though the stores are over an hour away from here, which means I'll either have to admit to my husband what I've done BEFORE taking steps to rectify the damage (heaven forbid!) or wait until Monday and hope Bonnie Blue makes it up to Germantown and back without incident.

It would be simpler to go ahead and tell him.

But my pride and fear are holding me back.  Not wanting to be judged, not wanting to see and feel his anger and disappointment, not wanting to mar this otherwise nice weekend we are having.

In my heart, I know it's better to be honest, to not hold back, to swallow my pride and move forward through my fear.  DO IT AFRAID.  That's what my therapist tells me.  It's probably the only way I will really be able to confront this HUGE character defect and begin taking steps to overcome it.

I have to be honest with MYSELF first, but knowledge is useless unless acted upon.

I KNOW this.  It's just so darn scary sometimes to take that first step.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I was already thinking of doing a gratitude list, and then read Jeremy's awesome post.  I have so much to be grateful for in my life today, even when I forget, or when I focus on minor irritations and insignificant inconveniences.

Today, I'm grateful for:
  • A husband who loves me and who chose to go with me to a marriage workshop at our church tonight.  That he even WANTS to do something like this today is a testament to the way this program works, and that the Promises indeed come true.
  • New fellow/fellowettes in my life who are quickly becoming new friends.
  • Being invited (with my husband) to join a couples small group at church.
  • Being given opportunities to serve others.
  • Being able to rent a gorgeous 2,400 sq ft house here in our new hometown for less than it cost us to rent a 1,100 sq ft town house in Hollywood FL.
    Bonnie Blue, My Faithful Little '93 Ford Tempo.  160,000+ Miles and Still Going!
  • Having a car that runs and mostly gets me where I want to go, even if it does have over 160,000 miles on it and is costing us more to keep on the road than buying or leasing a newer model would be (don't ask). Gotta luv my little Bonnie Blue Beater!
  • Being reminded of the fact that being in this program requires working this program, and that I need to get off my butt and get a sponsor here in my new hometown.
  • Blogs and websites to visit that encourage and challenge me as I continue on this path of recovery.
  • Clean sheets and an electric warming blanket calling me to the restorative power of sleep.
G'nite.  Sleep tight. :D xo, PJ

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reality Bites

Just finished my THIRD (yep, count 'em: THREE!!) cupcake (with cream cheese and butter cream vanilla bean frosting - YUM!) of the day.

And I ate at least that many yesterday.

No wonder I'm having to go up a size in skirts and pants!


 I like to be thin, but I like to eat more.

Say, are you gonna eat that?

'Cuz if you're not...

I guess moderation in ANYthing is a challenge to this alcoholic!

Armistice Day: Poppies and Remembrance

I was reminded by Mary Christine's post of  a poignantly beautiful poem written by a  Canadian doctor serving on the battlefields in World War I. His words, penned so long ago, speak not only for him, but for every veteran of every battle of every war.  May God bless you all.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
(learn more)
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I have a difficult time with boundaries.  For years, I operated as if I had none, and I let myself play the victim to the hilt.  (Poor me, poor me... pour me another drink.)

Today I am aware that I need to have boundaries, and in some areas, I've established some pretty solid ones, but in other areas, I continue to struggle.

I think a lot of my uncertainty and hesitancy stems from not really having a clear perspective on what a healthy balance looks like when it comes to being available, helpful, caring and compassionate versus taking care of myself and not allowing myself to become a doormat.

The newcomer I mentioned previously is quickly becoming a source of irritation, frustration, anger and resentment for me.  She seems to have ZERO boundaries when it comes to asking for help and favors.  And, what I feared regarding my setting an unhealthy precedent by agreeing to go way out of my way to help her this past Saturday seems to be materializing rapidly.

And she has no clue.  I won't go into the details, but yesterday was a complete waste for me due to this woman and her demands, expectations, and complete ignorance of basic human courtesy (e.g., calling someone to tell them you no longer need a ride before they call you while en route to pick you up!).  I'm frustrated and irritated with her, and I'm more frustrated and irritated with myself for feeling helpless and not knowing how to handle this situation.

I don't think this woman is even aware  that she is doing or expecting anything unreasonable.  I don't think it even occurs to her to consider how her expectations, actions, and demands impact others.  She is so wrapped up in what she's going through right now that she cannot entertain awareness of anything else.

I get that.  I have sympathy and compassion for her and for her current emotional, physical, spiritual and mental state.  I realize that especially in the beginning, the focus has to be on self and getting better.  In the beginning, it is a ME program, and it is a selfish program, and it needs to be that way.  I see and feel and hear her desperation, and the fact that right now, it's literally one moment at a time for her, and that just getting to that NEXT moment demands heroic determination and focus, to the exclusion of any outside distractions.

I am truly grateful and happy that she HAS that desperation, that she wants a life of release and freedom so badly that she is willing to go to any lengths get it.  Really, truly, I am.

I can overlook a lot her behavior, her apparent lack of consideration for anyone else, and attribute it to the fact that she is desperate and new.  She also seems to be having some real cognitive and physical problems that I guess may be resulting from withdrawal from alcohol or pills or whatever she was on (hell, it could be crack-cocaine or heroin; I don't know, because she hasn't told me a damn thing!).


And now we get to the root of the real issue underneath my frustration and anger.  This newcomer has asked me, without the slightest hesitation or reservation, to turn my life upside down to accommodate her, yet she hasn't shared the FIRST THING about her issues and addiction(s), her emotional state -- her story -- with me.

If you want me to turn my life upside down to accommodate you and your needs, at least trust me enough to open the door a tiny, teensy crack, to allow me to begin to get a glimpse of who your are and how I can help you as you face your fears.  Throw me a bone.  Show me that you want to trust me, even if trust is generally impossible for you right now.  If I see that you want to trust me -- even if you can't trust me or anyone else yet -- chances are, I'll bend over backwards and leap through hoops to help you.

If you refuse to open yourself to me even a tiny bit -- if you continually put up a wall, yet conversely and constantly make demands on my time and energy -- I will shut down.

And, eventually, I will shut you out.  Out of my thoughts, out of my of day, out of my sobriety and my recovery.  Out of my life.

Not out of anger or frustration or irritation, or lack of empathy or sympathy, but out of an instinct for self-preservation.

Because, even after a few years, even after we begin to see that this is a WE program, it still is -- and needs to remain -- a ME program.  If I do not first protect and take care of myself and my sobriety, I really cannot be of help to anyone else.

Where is that balance?

I guess more will be revealed...

Monday, November 08, 2010

2 Left Feet

It's official.  I have 2 left feet.  After church yesterday, I went shopping for cowgirl boots and found a pair I love (or at least really like).  They were pricier than I wanted, but I loved the way they fit and looked on me.

I had a bunch of errands to run, so didn't make it home until after 5 PM.  On opening the box, and eagerly pulling on on my brand-spankin' new boots, I realized something was amiss. Somehow, I had  purchased 2 left-foot boots.  Same size, only both for the left foot.

The store had already closed, and no voice mail picked up when I called, so I'll have to go back this morning and try to exchange one of my left-foot boots for a right-foot one.

I just hope someone with 2 right feet doesn't purchase the other "pair" in the meantime.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Friday Already?

Technically, I guess it's SATURDAY already, at least in Mississippi.  I had 2 Twix and a Diet Red Bull for dinner, munched on fruit and veggies, ate 3 vanilla Oreos (my husband's) and now am sitting at my PC eating handfuls of my husband's cereal, dry from the box.  Hubby is not here.  He is at his Mommy's in Atlanta, so I am being BAD!! :D Next, I plan to drink a 5 hour energy shot and watch a bunch of my previously recorded shows.

I haven't been totally bad today.  In fact, as sobriety and recovery go, I was a pretty darned GOOD girl!  I responded to a voice message a girl I'd met last week in a meeting left me (who the hell calls at 7 AM in the freaking morning??!!), and we chatted for a while.  I had stayed up all night unpacking boxes and doing laundry and being petulant and resentful that my husband expects me do EVERYTHING.  It pisses him off when I stay up all night, and it makes me look like such a martyr when I've been working on the house and laundry, etc., so I do give in to the urge every so often.  Not more than twice a week or so.

I went to bed around noon and woke up around 3 PM when Roy came home to pack.  I drank coffee, got ready for my 5:30 meeting, and went to it.  It was a GREAT meeting, and I'm so glad I was able to be there and hear what I needed to hear and share what I needed to share.

I had forgotten to take my cell phone, so I had another voice mail on my phone when I got home, this time from a lady who is brand new, just starting to go to meetings, and I'm not sure she's sure she's an alcoholic yet.  Thank goodness, I and some others had given her our phone numbers, so when she got stressed out today, she called.  I called her back and she wants to go with me to the 10 AM meeting tomorrow, which is fine -- in fact I'm thrilled she wants to go -- but when I suggested a meeting place so she could follow me to the meeting she more or less indicated she doesn't want to have to deal with Ole Miss at-home-game traffic tomorrow, and would like me to come and get her.

Okay, normally, I might be a teensy bit put out by this, but I'm actually pretty damn pissed off about the entire scenario.  She lives south of town, which means, I would have to drive through the pre-game traffic both to pick her up and take her home, going way out of my way to do so, as I live on the side of town where the meeting is.

I'm not doing it.

She wants me to call her tomorrow morning at 9AM, and I'm just going to tell her that since our conversation earlier tonight, I looked at the map, and realized what picking her up would involve for me, and that as I said tonight, I will be MORE than happy to meet her at a mutually convenient spot, and she is welcome to even leave her car there if she doesn't want to follow me, and I'm happy to bring her back to her car, but I am NOT going to take on the very thing she is so anxious to avoid.

The only thing is, now I feel guilty that I'm not willing to go out of my way to help a newcomer.  Part of me just wants to shut up, pick her up, and not let it get to me, but to be happy to have an opportunity to be of service.  Another part of me is saying, hey wait a minute, she may be a newcomer, but she's not new in town, and you are.  That part, which is not such a nice part of me, is also saying, do this this one time and you are setting a precedent, and you are setting yourself up to be used and walked on from here on out.

What's difficult for me to sort out here is the truth, and what is truly important.  Granted, I have issues, and become defensive easily.  I have also failed to set proper boundaries in the past, and have ended up in situations where backpedaling was impossible.  So, first things first... my feeling "put out" and taken advantage of is probably mostly due to fear, false pride, feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-confidence.  It is probably more important that this newcomer gets to a meeting, even at significant inconvenience to me, than it is for me to establish boundaries and avoid being used.  I remember how frightened I was to go to some of my first meetings in AA, and if people hadn't put themselves out and taken me to and from the meetings, I know I wouldn't have gone.

So, I need to do this.  Even if I have fears of setting an unhealthy precedent with this lady.  Even if I am taking her inventory and wondering what kind of issues she has that makes driving so impossible for her right now.  Even if I think she is incredibly self-centered and thoughtless to hint at my having to drive clear across town and back twice so she can get to a meeting.

Because she needs a meeting.  I need a meeting.  I need to humble myself, swallow my pride and release my fears and resentments and realize that God is in this.  This lady called ME and asked for help. That took incredible courage, born of desperation.  She wants to stop drinking and start living and she doesn't know how to do that yet, and she certainly can't do it alone.  Thank you, HP, for allowing me to be of service to another alcoholic, even if you had to drag me to it, kicking and screaming.  Thank you for loving me, and for loving my new friend that much.  Thy will (not mine) be done.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Promised Pics: Boots Helps Mommy Post

 See that loose skin?  I lost 2 pounds during the move!  (Y'know, the experts say only death and divorce are as traumatic as moving...)
 WTF??!! Get that out of my face, woman.
 Maybe if I ignore her, she'll just go away.
Ha! Serves ya right, BI-ATCH!!  Ya move, ya lose. Now leave me alone and let me get some sleep!

So Much To Tell, So Little Time...

Whew!  Where do I even start?

Nutshell Version:
Moved to Oxford, MS just over 2 weeks ago.  Decided with my therapist to do a new 90 in 90 (new town, new support group/friends needed, etc.).  Everything going well, at least on the surface.  Husband in his element - dream job, meeting influential people in his field, being challenged, growing in knowledge, etc. ad nauseum.

Not so great, is that I started smoking AGAIN, having quit 2 weeks or so prior to moving, after I started smoking AGAIN after quitting for 9 weeks or more.

I know the smoking is just another unhealthy and essentially nonproductive way to mask what I'm truly feeling and not deal.  But right now, I just can't deal with everything, don't WANT to deal non-chemically-enhanced with all this reality, cuz right now it's too much.

Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely LOVE Oxford.  People in general here are genuinely the nicest I've ever met, and I'm from the South originally.  I am grateful and excited to have gotten into a recovery core group so soon, and my fellows and fellowettes have been remarkable in making me feel welcome, giving me phone numbers, making sure I know where meetings are, etc, etc.  I am home, truly, and felt that way after walking into my very first meeting here, even though I was 30 minutes late.

I am just a little down and sad at the moment, mostly from post-move, mid-unpacking stress, I'm sure.  But, it's a little more than that, too.  I just want my husband to love and accept me for who I am and despite who I am and what I do that he dislikes (i.e. smoking and spending money), especially when he knows I'm really trying.

I'm sitting here typing and the tears are welling up, my sinuses and eyes are stinging, and I don't want to cry, cuz I've got to wrap this up and get showered and dressed in time for my 5:30 meeting.

Roy's going to ATL this weekend.  I was planning to go, too, and we were just going to take Boots with us since it's only a 6 hr. drive and my mother-in-law loves her grandkitty.  But now, I'm thinking I just want a weekend away from him (Roy, not the cat).  So, I'm going to tell him that tonight.  I don't care if he gets pissed either.  I need my alone time sometimes.

 Besides, I wouldn't want to miss my Friday night and Saturday morning meetings here, and I tried to find ones I could go to in East Point instead, but I'd rather just stay in my comfort zone this weekend, chaotic as it is.

More later.  The shower calls. (Boots is helping Mommy blog.  Will share photos I just took 2nite - can't find USB cable right now - he's probably lying on it!)