BIG BOOK STUDY

I have been attending AA meetings for about a year.  I have 15 months and 14 days of sobriety yet I still don’t feel the serenity. I am not happy, joyous and free.  Life has been a little rough the past few months, and I have maintained my sobriety throughout, but am I just white knuckling it, or am I truly sober?

I have yet to read the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous from cover to cover.  My rationalization for this is because it is too dated.  When I went to my first meeting, one of the men said to me, get the Big Book and read the first 164 pages.  I may have read the first 64 pages, then it went to the bottom of the reading pile.

I still took the book with me when we went away last summer, and to Florida this winter.  I did not open it once.  It could actually double as a paperweight right now.

Two weeks ago, an interesting “old timer” came to our little home group meeting.  This person is intriguing,has very long term sobriety and that sense of serenity surrounds him.  I was drawn to him, I needed to find out how he got that and has maintained it for 24 years.

We became Facebook friends, and immediately started using the chat feature to discuss alcoholism, AA, and the Big Book.  I outed myself, and told him I have not read it.  I got the usual reaction when I tell anyone from AA that I haven’t read the book; WHY NOT?

I knew the only way I would actually pick it up and read it is if I was held culpable.  I suggested we do a Big Book discussion group, all two of us.

Yesterday, we got together to discuss Chapter 1.   I was explaining to him that I still have not found a Higher Power, nor can I really commit to the concept of a Higher Power, the whole process seems to still illude me.  I have moments of YES iI think I have this, but it is not a constant ribbon running through my life. I do not feel it daily.

I then disclosed, that frequently when things get to emotionally painful, my go to thought is : DRINK!  Or DRINK + PILLS!  That was when he said, maybe you aren’t done drinking yet.  Followed by, frequently people need to relapse to really be ready to embrace this program.  There was also discussion about putting my sobriety first every day.  Do I do that?  I don’t know.

All of these months of ups and downs with being sober, and maybe I need to relapse to get this program?  How does that make sense?  Is relapse a prerequisite for finding serenity and letting a higher power guide my life?  Will I find the answers to all of this in the book that I have been using as a paperweight for over a year?

I guess I will find out.  Chapter 2 on Monday

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Patriots vs Broncos: Sunday, Funday Football

In case none of you have figured it out yet, I am a life-long, rabid Patriots fan.  I grew up in New England.  I loved the Patriots when they were awful, then good, and now great.

I have followed the team through all of the good, bad and ugly years.  I grew up on Patriots football, and beer.  Booze goes with football, everyone knows it.

Since we moved south, the Patriots games are not televised here every Sunday.  That didn’t keep me from drinking through all of the other Sunday NFL games that were on.  Football season, license to crack open a bottle of wine at 1 pm!

There is something special for me about a Patriots game.  It is bonding time with my son, and of course a time to have many glasses of wine.

This season I have had to watch most of the games on my computer.  Doing that just isn’t as fun as watching it in High Definition on a 55 inch television screen.  Computer viewing certainly did not trigger any alcohol cravings.

I can’t say the same for tonight’s game.

The Brady-Manning rivalry is legendary in the NFL.  I think it is mostly media hype, but it certainly does add a large dose of excitement to the game.

This afternoons game was on national television.  We actually got the game in my living room!

Along with the hype and excitement came a wave of craving for a big glass of white wine.  Football and alcohol, especially when it is a big game, just go together.

My husband had his vodka and cranberry, my son had his beer, I had my seltzer and pomegranate juice.  It just did not feel right.  It didn’t feel like football.

i can handle these cravings better now, I know that they will pass, sometimes they linger for a while, sometimes they are instantaneous. I just have to wait them out. They are uncomfortable as I am going through them, and I keep wondering when they will stop,  Everyone says they will, but as of today, I still seem to have multiple trigger points.

I got through it, and the game was awesome.  It was a fantastic Patriots win. It was a romp, and as a hardcore fan, it was great to see Peyton Manning have a terrible game, and get a beat down by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  Rob Gronkowski added to his growing legend, and Tom Brady was terrific.  My favorite player, Julian Edelman, had an 84 yard punt return for a touchdown.

Julian Edelman was a 7th round draft pick. He is only 5′ 10” tall and 198 pounds.  He was an unknown, no one could figure out what the Patriots were going to do with a small guy who had played quarterback in college. No one ever thought he would make the team.  Edelman is one of the hardest working players on the team.  He had to prove himself to everyone, and he has.

I feel the same way about my sobriety. Albeit, I am the one who thinks I am not good enough, and that I can’t stay sober.  So, in the words of Julian Edelman, there are only two things I can do; I can prove ’em right, or I can prove ’em wrong.  It is entirely up to me.

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Keeping it Green

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I live every sober day with the fear of relapse.  It is always in the back of my mind.  For all 333 days of sobriety, I have had 333 days of fear, fear of drinking again.

I often think that at this point in my sobriety, closing in on a year, I should not still be having cravings  feeling triggers, or still be thinking about drinking, but I do and I am.  This makes me nervous, and that translates into fear.

I am still aware of the drinking going on around me.  I am not as hypervigilant as I was in the beginning, but it is still there.  There are still certain visual triggers.  Certain bottles of wine, names of vineyards, and family gatherings are all palatable trigger points.

I was at my home group meeting two weeks ago, and a gentleman shared a story.  He was at a meeting where a man received his 19 year medallion.  The holiday season was in full swing, and the man with 19 years disappeared from the weekly meeting he always attended.  A month went by, he returned and picked up a 24 hour chip.

He had seen a holiday advertisment for Kahlua and coffee.  He went out, bought a bottle of Kahlua, and proceeded to have just ONE.  The next thing he remembers is waking up in detox.

I sat there flabbergasted.  Thinking to myself, HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN???  WILL THAT HAPPEN TO ME??  WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN??

This past Monday night, I went to my home group with 12 the Hard Ways post, Back to Zero fresh in my mind.  I was having a pre meeting meeting with one of the old timers.  I was telling her about the blog post, and how it affected me, and how afraid I was that it was eventually and inevitably going to happen to me.

The meeting moderator asked for a topic for discussion, she threw COMPLACENCY  and relapse on the table.

The discussion was enlightening.

I constantly hear the old timers say that staying sober has to be the number one priority of every day.  I had listened to that so many times, but until Monday night’s discussion, I never really HEARD it.

My home group is mostly made up of old timers.  The stories and the wisdom are fascinating.  Everyone had a relapse story.  Either their own or someone they had met along the way.

Each story ended the same way.  The person in recovery stopped tending to their sobriety.  They stopped going to meetings.  They stopped doing their readings, they stopped meditating, the stopped tending the garden of sobriety.  They stopped keeping it green.

Instead of getting up each day and doing the work, they told themselves; I got this, no problem.  They became complacent.

As they were sharing, I began to think, great, more work to do.  Then I realized, I am doing the work.  I do it every day.  I read sober blogs, my daily meditation, my Big Book, and my 12 & 12.  I go to recovery websites, I read sober posts on Twitter, and Facebook.  I text or talk to my incredible sponsor.

What I learned is I need to work at this program, come hell or high water.  Whether my mother is dying, or my son is under- employed and living in my house, or I am knocked around by any of the other obstacles that life throws at me.  I have to do the work to stay sober, every day.  I can’t take a chance on thinking, I will do that work tomorrow, because that is the day I will end up drinking.  I can’t become complacent.

I often wondered why my home group was filled with so many people with an amazing accumulation of years sober.  Why did they still have to come to meetings?  Aren’t they bored with the program after so many years?  They may be but they can’t afford to become complacent.

I have worked very hard to get here.  The fear of relapse is still there, but now I look at it as a positive emotion, it will remind me to do the work that will keep me sober.

I have to keep working, because it only works if you work it.

I have to keep it green.

 

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THANK YOU

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was thinking about how much my life has changed since getting sober.  The first change being that I was DRIFTING OFF TO SLEEP, not passing out.  There are times that sleep comes quickly, and other nights I lie there and thoughts drift through my head.  This is what came to me last night.

I want to THANK each and every one of you who has taken time to read my blog, follow my story, and add comments.

thank

The evening I read the Good Housekeeping article about Amy from Soberbia, and Belle from Tired of Thinking about Drinking, was life changing.  I emailed Belle from the gym the next day, where I was trying to sweat out another hang over.  I WAS Tired of Thinking about Drinking, sick and tired.  I told her I was ready to start the 100 day Challenge, sign me up.

Unfortunately, there was still a half of a bottle of wine in the refrigerator, I drank it, as any good alcoholic would, because it should not go to waste, and who else would get rid of it if I didn’t?

The next day, I had to email Belle and tell her to restart my Day 1.  That day was 11/30/2013.  I have not had a drink since.

I relied on Belle and her Team 100 for quite some time.  As I got deeper into the blogging world, I began to read about AA and what a fantastic program it was, and how many people had found kindred souls and fantastic mental help through the program.  It took me about 3 weeks to get enough courage to walk through the doors.

I threw myself into the program.  I went and bought the books, started the reading, attended all sorts of meetings trying to find the place I could call home.  I had some good experiences and some bad ones, but I kept at it until I found that comfortable spot and people I could relate to.

I then went on a quest for a sponsor.  One of the men at my home meeting gave me his wife’s number.  We met, but did not click.  I posted about my struggle to find a sponsor, and a wonderful sober blogger offered to do it.  She became my sponsor in April, and I haven’t looked back.

Ours is an unusual situation, I would imagine.  We live in different states.  We have had to make our relationship work via email, text and telephone.  I remember how fast my heart was beating during our first telephone call, I was scared.   Since that time, she has become not only my sponsor, but my confidant, my close friend, and my true north.  We finally got to meet during my travels this summer, and it was like we had been friends forever.  Thank you, M, I truly love you.

Thank you to all of you.  Thank you to Belle, Amy, to Christy at  Running on Sober, to Paul at Message in A Bottle and Jeni, who all helped me in early sobriety.  I mean really, really helped me, as in throwing me continuous life preservers while drowning help.

Thank you to all the other wonderful bloggers who have stopped by to leave me tidbits of wisdom while I wind my way down this ever changing path of sobriety.  I truly would not be here without you.  I begin and end my days reading your words..  Every one of you have added some wisdom to some part of my journey.

I wouldn’t be here without you.  Thank you.  I am truly blessed to have found this wonderful world.

What Effect Does Alcohol Have on the Body? (Copied from Sober Nation)

What Effects does Alcohol Have on the Body?
Alcoholism is an overwhelmingly present issue. It is a very powerful and damaging disease that is very capable of taking your health for a horrific downfall if left untreated.

With the consistent abuse of alcohol or someone suffering from alcoholism, there are short- and long-term effects on the body. But what someone may not realize is that the short-term all too often turns into the long-term and then you have reached an entirely new obstacle.

So what happens when you drink alcohol? Sure, it all seems well and good until you over drink. Who has ever had an experience in which you drank too much, became ill and swore off drinking all together! I know I have.

However, one thing is certain: Continuing to consume alcohol will bring upon uninhibited feelings tied with possible dizziness, slurred speech, possible aggressiveness and violence, emotional ups and downs and a sense of false well-being. Then you can look forward to the next day…the infamous hangover. A typical hangover which results from too much alcohol will cause headache, nausea, and fatigue.

While many people consume alcohol and willingly endure these short-term effects without having any sort of trouble or difficulty stopping, some aren’t so willing to stop and become addicted. However, there are still short term effects that should be noted.

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Short-Term Effects

Alcohol is absorbed into our system through the walls of our stomach and intestines, which is why people get intoxicated more quickly on an empty stomach. Alcohol is processed by the liver, which is the only organ that produces the proper enzyme. When a person is drunk, they generally go through different “stages.” Starting with euphoria, as a person drinks alcohol they move into a stage of lethargy, followed by confusion, stupor, and coma or death.

Here is a list of some of the common short-term effects of alcohol on our bodies, which worsen and can become severe or life-threatening as more alcohol is consumed.

Flushed face or red blotches on the skin
Impaired fine motor skills
Sedation
Impaired memory
Lack of muscle coordination
Poor balance
Blurred vision or other impaired senses
Impaired ability to speak
Dizziness
Numbness to pain
Nausea or vomiting
Unconsciousness
Inability to create new memories
Decreased heart rate
Difficulty urinating
Respiratory depression
Long-Term Effects

For people who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis, the effects on their body can be quite significant. The liver is the part of the body that’s most affected. Long-term alcohol use can lead to a fatty liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and inflammation. The liver will not work as well and fewer nutrients and oxygen will reach the liver cells, which will eventually lead to liver failure.

Here is a list of more parts of the body that are affected by frequent alcohol consumption and how they’re affected:

Heart: Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and lead to heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.
Brain: The brain’s communication pathways are impaired, which causes many of the short-term effects of alcohol, such as lack of coordination and memory. With heavy drinking, some damage to the brain and its communication pathways can be permanent.
Pancreas: Alcohol makes the pancreas produce a toxic substance that can lead to a swollen pancreas and swollen blood vessels in the pancreas, which impairs digestion.
Kidneys: Alcohol enlarges the kidneys, impairs their ability to function, and can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.
Immune System: Heavy drinking lowers the body’s defenses against disease and infection.
There are many other ways that alcohol can affect the body in the long-term. Frequent, long-term alcohol consumption can also lead to these diseases and conditions (directly or indirectly):

Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, liver, and colon.
Gouty arthritis
Pneumonia
Tuberculosis
Hyperglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Malnutrition
Nervous disorders like dementia and neuropathy
Obesity
Psychological disorders like depression, insomnia, and anxiety
Fetal alcohol syndrome
The long-term effects of consuming alcohol will most definitely lead to some sort of damage to vital organs such as the liver and the brain. Oftentimes, alcoholism will lead to permanent damage. Other long-term issues entail a lack of good nutrition, as the alcoholic is focused on the drinking rather than eating properly. They also may suffer financially, as it is very difficult for someone to balance the disease of alcoholism and a commitment to employment.

There is a thin line between drinking alcohol in moderation and having it consume your life. Alcoholism often begins with casual and social drinking and then turns into a long-term lifestyle. No matter what your decision, to drink or not, the best thing you can do is be as aware as possible of all the dangers of alcohol running rampant.

Living My Best Sober Life

I heard this twice at today’s meeting.  I have never heard it before.

I do not think I am doing that.

I am not even sure how to do it.

Any thoughts?

 

Afterthought:

There was a lot of talk about mail yesterday.  Opening mail, not opening mail, leaving mail in piles, and being afraid of mail.  I was lost.

And dogs, do all recovering alcoholics have dogs?  How do dogs relate to recovery?

WTF???

Dollar General sells beer and wine in Virginia!  So does CVS.  It is like a sneak attack, browsing through the cards, and  turn down the next aisle and BAM, WINE and BEER.  Huh?  

Where was all of this wine when I was drinking and had to drive 12 miles to the liquor store?

Oh right, I don’t live in Virginia.  This must be a very hard place to quit drinking.

Doing the right thing with RESENTMENTS!!!

56467-48128I am struggling a lot in this care-giver/daughter role I am in here.

I know I am doing the right thing, but I have big, huge, woolly mammoth sized RESENTMENTS!

I resent the fact that both my brothers lives are going along as normal.  One went out to dinner Friday night, and then went to a vineyard yesterday.

The other one, who lives overseas went to a farmer’s market, the playground with his two year old, and out for lunch and drinks.

I know I am doing the right thing, but I am MAD!

I was supposed to go to a medical staff party on the beach, go to a friends summer cottage on the water for the weekend, and run a 5k road race today.

I know I am doing the right thing, but the RESENTMENTS keep closing in.

I went to a meeting yesterday, it was a woman’s meeting.  It was awesome, they give out monthly chips, I got an 8 month one!  On 8/30, when I am STILL HERE, doing the right thing, I will collect a 9 month one.  So, I have that going for me.

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My husband, who I often feel is an emotional vacuum, got up early and went to the check in at the road race and got my shirt for me.  He called me first thing this morning to tell me.  I cried, and then felt a huge RESENTMENT about being here, and doing the right thing.

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Today is 260 days.  I always try to do something special for myself on days that end with zeros.

I am going to an aerial silks class at 2 pm.  Something for me.  Something to get me out of this apartment, alone.  Something fun.  Something that may help to take away some of the detritus of these major RESENTMENTS.

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If I keep saying it over and over, maybe my attitude will change:

I know I am doing the right thing, I know I am doing the right thing, I know I am doing the right thing….

 

 

Open Bar Party

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Last night the hubs and I went to a Luau party at his golf club.  The tickets were $75.00 per person, for that nominal fee you got an open bar a buffet  which included grilled shrimp, and a reggae band.

When I was drinking, only 8 months ago, I would have made a valiant effort to try and drink my $75.00 entrance fee worth of wine.  Because that is what you do, isn’t it?

I felt a small pang of regret that I wasn’t drinking as we approached the bar.  I knew there was no way I could consume $75.00 worth of food, so I was disappointed that we weren’t going to get our money’s worth at the bar.   (That is normal thinking, right?)

Well, the hubs only had two vodka and cranberries, one of which I got for him.  I had four club sodas with lemon.

The food was mediocre at best.  And there was NO chocolate in sight on the dessert table.  Coconut ice cream, and rice pudding, who calls that dessert?

People came, drank a drink or two, ate and left.  It was not one of the better parties we have attended there.

We were home before 10.

This morning I woke up without a hangover.   hungover

I know that this a normal phenomenon for a “normal” drinker, but for me, it was very unusual.

It feels GREAT!!  I feel GREAT!!

I emailed my sponsor, M, to tell her what a great fait accompli this was, not drinking at an OPEN BAR!!!

I didn’t share it with anyone else, because no one else would understand, most especially not the hubs.  (He still astounds me with the lack of understanding he has for this disease.  I guess it wasn’t part of his MD training, or it is selective, I haven’t decided yet.  If he suggests that we get a wine machine that dispenses only ONE glass before it shuts down one more time I AM GOING TO PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE! )

I am a super sober star, I DID NOT DRINK AT AN OPEN BAR!!!  (Yup, it rhymes!!  See what you can do when not hung over?)

Fantastic AA Speaker

I have begun my journey back  north.  I am currently in Virginia at my mother’s, I will be here until Sunday.  She is a heavy drinker, and a serious trigger for me.

Day 1 is done.  (well really only about 5 hours, then I went to bed, so I guess that doesn’t count.)

My sponsor told me to keep my side of the street clean. That is my goal while I am here.  Off to have coffee and practice being a better person.  I am trying to remove those buttons she so readily pushes.

I listened to this AA speaker on my way here, he is fantastic.  Get a pen and paper, he is the King on the acronym.

These are two I caught while trying to drive:

SPONSOR: Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions on Recovery

ANONYMOUS: Actions Not Our Names Yield Maintenance of  Unity and Service

I hope you enjoy him as much as I did, and if you get any of the acronyms, please share.