Thursday 31 March 2016

A Decade of Personal Growth

When I realized that my problem with alcohol has been simmering for over ten years, my first thought was that I've wasted the past ten years obsessing over alcohol.  When I look at the situation realistically I am profoundly grateful for my addiction in that while searching for salvation from it, I found myself.

The past ten years have found me searching, reading, writing and truly getting to know what makes me tick and what's important in life.

I've found Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown, Jason Vale, Gabor Mater and numerous other prolific, wise men and women.  I have maintained a daily meditation practice for well over a year.  My diet has improved.  My humility and empathy have blossomed.  There are so many positive factors that have been a direct result of my searching for a way out of the dark tunnel of addiction.

Thank you Addiction but now it's time to recede.  I am now ready to tip my hat to you and bid you adieu.  I know my 'cravings' will always be hovering nearby and that I always have to remain vigilant but I am done pretending I don't have a problem.  I am done thinking that I can accept my diseased brain's demands for booze and carry on as if it's alright.

Now it's time to put drinking behind me and use the knowledge, empathy and compassion I've gained throughout this journey to help others and to be an example of what success looks like.

Ten years ago I was spending most nights obliviously drinking my half bottle or more of red wine feeling vaguely lonely, vaguely unsettled and very, very tired.  When my self examination began, my healing began.  Recovery is a slow process and relapse is a big, important part of it.  Ten years is a little exaggerated but I guess I needed this time to reframe my values and my goals.

I used to think that I had a huge purpose to fulfill and that booze kept me from doing so.  I was going to be a speaker, an author, a role model in society; to CHANGE to world.  I have come to know that, although my role is huge, it is like the spokes of a wheel.  It starts with me and branches out to my own circle of family and friends.  If I can be happily sober in world of fearful drunks, robustly and naturally healthy in a world of sick pill poppers, resolutely positive in a world of pessimists and all that I can be as a Granny of Five, then I am doing the job I was put on Earth to do.

Sobriety Rocks!

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Pen Pals, Moon Gatherings and March 21st

I have been struggling with alcoholism for over ten years now.  Unfortunately or fortunately I have found proof of this.  While cleaning out drawers I found an old journal from 2006 with a list of goals.  Low and behold high up on the list was 'get a handle on my drinking'.  As disturbing this fact might be, it is not what has prompted me to quit drinking this time.  I don't really have a new reason to quit; it's just that the problem in my own mind with whatever quantity of alcohol I drink just won't go away. 

I had become almost abstinent with lots of slip-ups.  I would go four days, six days, 11 days; sometimes two weeks of sobriety would be tucked nicely under my belt.  During the past year I've felt sick from drinking only twice; maybe three times.   But, inevitably, no matter what, how much, when or why I drank, I always hated myself the next day. 

By the outside world's standards I had solved my problem.  I drank 'normally'.  I, simply, cannot live with my drinking self.  So, I quit again.  

Here's what I am doing differently this time:

I have a pen pal.  I have a lovely lady who is in similar age and situation to me who I email on a twice weekly basis; maybe more.  She is supportive and has had her ups and downs as well in her quest for control over her drinking.  I took a wild chance with her and told her about some things I usually keep to myself and she still came back.  This is huge for me.  I tend to hide away when I slip up and she has seen me through a few dips.  

I decided to choose a meaningful date as my start date.  On March 21st, 30 years ago, I had a stillborn daughter.  Her death, was not only devastating, but led me in new directions that I would have otherwise never taken.  The domino effect of this tragedy has lead me to unbelievable happiness both in my love life, my career and my family life.  My adopted daughter is my best friend in the world and has given me two beautiful granddaughters.

Four years ago, I chose my wedding date to occur on the same day.  After being together for more than a decade, my husband is truly still my soul mate.  We live unbelievably harmoniously.  I wanted to replace a bad memory with a good one.

As the anniversary of both my daughter's stillbirth and my 4th Wedding Anniversary approached I decided to add another life changing event to the mix.  On the morning of March 20th, I poured myself a glass of Grand Mariner, took a swig and pronounced myself a Non Drinker.  This morning drink which was a new 'low' for me was necessary in order for March 21st, 2016 to become my first day Sober of my Last Quit.   

The cartoon like photo above was taken that morning against the backdrop of my bathroom wall as I lay in the bathtub feeling very ceremonious and pleased with myself. The words "Make Each Day Your Masterpiece" is stenciled onto my bathroom wall and I feel it apt that this is the back drop for the photo of my last drinking day's drink.  I didn't realize I could mess around with photos and even write on them.  Neat APP!!

This one is the kicker:  I belong to a group of women who meet once a month.  We are hosted by a half Native/half Celtic Woman who runs a Healing Horse Ranch and works extensively with Essential Oils. An eclectic group of women attend these moon-centred circles. There is an astrologist, a beekeeper, a B & B owner, a harpist, a few holistic healers and many other wise women.  Some have studied with Shamans and Grandmothers.  I have the utmost respect for this group of women and am just getting to know them individually as I am relatively new to this group.

We met outdoors on the 23rd of March to commemorate the recent full moon (I was on my third day sober). After smudging ourselves, singing and drumming, we enjoyed the ceremonial fire.  To end the outdoor part of the gathering, we each threw a handful of sacred tobacco on the fire and murmured our intentions privately before coming indoors.  Inside, we all sat by the cozy stone fireplace and passed the 'talking feather' around.  In turn, we talked about our fears, disappointments, hopes and achievements.  As the feather came to me, without planning it, I spoke of my problem with alcohol and of my March 21st quit date. My 'confession' was met with encouragement and even a few tears.  A woman admitted that she, too, was questioning her own relationship with wine.  After this, outburst I am now accountable, to, not only myself and my fantastic pen pal, but to thirteen Moon Gathering Women who are all going to inquire as to how I am doing every time they see me.  That's how these ladies roll.  They are very caring chicks by virtue of their chosen paths.  Don't even ask me why I am invited in the first place.  I run a Construction Company for Gawds Sake!!  

I've been listening to Sober Podcasts.  I love 'That Sober Guy', The Bubble Hour and right now am getting a lot of momentum from Sober Sassy Life by the Wine Witch.  She really is hitting home with me right now.  I listen to these Podcasts while I jump on my rebounder (mini-trampoline).  I am exercising and I think that deserves mentioning.

I hope that by exercising, visiting sober blogs, chatting with my pen pal, being accountable to a group of caring women and staying present, I can keep the momentum going.

I know it's been a long entry and if you are still here, Thanks.  I am now on day ten and have renewed hope that I can stay the course and join the ranks of solidly sober bloggers.