Opiate Relapse, Story #2

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I relapsed with opiates was in December 2015.

Christmas Day of 2015, I received a call from my step-mother. My father was in ICU in Bangor, Maine with pneumonia, can I come please? The next morning, I caught the first ferry off the island, and headed to Maine. Along the way, I stopped at Logan Airport to pick up my brother who had gotten the same call, and had flown in from Saint Louis.

For most people, pneumonia is not a deadly disease. For my father it is. My father is a two time cancer survivor. In case you were ever in doubt, smoking does cause cancer. The cancer first started in his mouth, under his tongue. He had radiation, which killed all his salivary glands, and compromised his jaw bone. In later years, he lost a lot of his teeth. Two years later, the cancer was back, in his lungs. The doctor’s removed the top lobe of his left lung. They caught it early, so he didn’t need any further treatment, and has been cancer free for 20 plus years.

That being said, pneumonia is deadly for a person who has a compromised immune system and has diminished breathing capacity to start with. The doctors also could not identify the strain of pneumonia, so they had no idea how to treat him. My step mother thought he was going to die. Both my brother and I went to Maine.

My brother was also suffering. He had fallen off a ladder and had done something horrific to his neck. He was using the neck hanging traction apparatus, but was in a lot of pain.

When we arrived at my father’s home, my brother said he was in agony. He had taken the last Vicodin that the doctor had prescribed him. I said, “I know that Dad has some pain pills, he never takes them after an operation.” I strapped on my running shoes and made a bee line to their bathroom, lightning speed.

I took a couple of pills out of the bottle and handed them to my brother. I took the 3 bottles I found there, and stashed them in my room.

I was in Maine for a week,  most of the time alone. Spending time in the ICU, and spending a lot of time at my father’s house. I popped pills like a mad woman. Every night I would watch TV, have my seltzer, and take a few pain pills. Every morning I would wake up, feel like shit, and tell myself to flush them down the toilet. Yet, every night, I would repeat the previous evening’s cycle.

When it was time to head home, my true addict surfaced. I emptied the bottles and put the pills into a baggie, which I hid in a compartment in my bag. I threw the empty bottles into my handbag. As I headed south, I stopped for a coffee and bagel. Along the way, at a rest area, I took the empty bottles, put them in the bag of trash from the coffee shop and threw them in the trash can at a rest stop along I-95.

I was sneaky for sure. At the time, it all seemed perfectly normal, in hindsight, it looks like what it is, a drug addict, stealing drugs from family members.

After a few days at home, I came clean to my husband. I had flushed the remaining pills down the toilet, and had, once again, determined to get sober from opiates.

I made it a year and a month.Last week I relapsed. My problem was, I didn’t get help. I did what I always do, I stay sober through sheer determination. I am a competitive person, even with myself. This worked until last week.

In December, I had a realization that I can not power through my addictions by myself.I was struggling, mentally. No matter how many miles I ran to clear the noise from my head, it kept coming back. I needed help.I half- assed a few AA meetings in November. In December, I got serious, I got a sponsor, who I speak to every day. I am a work in progress. I am working on rigorous honesty, with myself and my sponsor, who had no idea how deep my opiate addiction was until last week.

This is the first time I have told on myself about this side of my addiction. This has been my dirty little secret that I have not acknowledged to anyone, and most importantly myself.

Now it is out there, it is with my sponsor, and it is with you. Rigorous honesty isn’t always pretty, this is down right ugly, and it has made me completely uncomfortable to share. I was just getting used to calling myself alcoholic, now I need to add addict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEGINNING AND ENDINGS

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I got sober 15 months and 28 days ago.  Getting sober was an ending to my drinking, my hungover self-loathing, my afternoon naps, and diligently watching the time waiting for wine o’clock,so I could begin the ugly cycle again.  Getting sober was the beginning of becoming healthier; mentally and physically.  I began to be responsible for my actions, and feelings.  I started to develop better, deeper and more open personal relationships with the people I care about.  Getting sober meant I had to deal with life on life’s terms, and feel those feelings I had been drowning in alcohol and prescription narcotics.  Although not always easy, fun or even something I want to do, getting sober feels like it was the beginning of me as a real person.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the fortitude to do it much sooner.

I have had one heck of a sober first year.  I have written a lot about seeking and believing in a higher power. I have had great difficulty understanding giving my life over to this unknown anomaly and basically not being a believer.  Looking back over the last 15 months of my life, I now have a distinct impression that I have had a guiding hand on my back the whole time.  I have been through a lot of personal and emotional turmoil in the last 15 months.  There have been beginnings and endings and beginnings again.  The timing of these events has been unprecedented, and on a linear aspect, quite amazing the way it has all played out.

My life has come full circle,an ending has come to the new beginning that started 7 years ago.  We have just sold our house in Tennessee and are moving back north to New York.

New York is where my relationship with my husband began.  We ended our time there for a new beginning in the south with my son.  He has since grown up, ended his time here, and begun anew in Illinois.  His leaving the nest was very painful for me.  I knew my job was to raise him with wings to fly, yet when it was time for him to use those wings, I wanted to clip them and keep him with me, I was not ready for the ending to this chapter of my life.  He is flourishing in his new beginning, he is happy, making great money, and becoming the person I always knew he could be, what a great beginning.

When I ended my life in Massachusetts, I left my mother behind, as my son left me, it was time for me to move my life into a new beginning with a new husband and a new home.  Experiencing the beginnings and endings in my mothers life were fraught with emotion.  In September of 2013, I moved my healthy mother from Massachusetts to Virginia.  In August of 2014, I moved my moderately sick mother from Virginia to Missouri.  In February, upon her death, I was tasked with the chore of culling through her things yet again.  My brother and I distributed, packed, stored and threw away the contents of my mothers life. I was involved in all of my mother’s new beginnings.  Overwhelmingly followed by her devastating ending.

Throughout this time, I have been o loop
bserving my father in law head toward his ending  He is now 99 1/2 years old and still living alone.

Our new beginning is going back for the ending.  We are moving in with him to help him.  We both know this is the beginning of the end for him, that is why we have made the decision to return north.

We will again experience a new beginning, we are lucky, right now it is on hold, the ending has to come first.

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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ADDICTION KILLS

Leonard Nimoy, Dr. Spock from Star Trek, died yesterday from COPD; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Smoking tobacco is the most common cause of COPD.  Smoking is an awful addiction, just like alcohol.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths—and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.

Leonard Nimoy took to social media after his diagnosis to let people know how bad smoking is.

Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP.

When I was addicted to cigarettes I ignored good medical advice. Addicts have lying ears. LLAP

Cigarettes don’t make anything better. Nicotine taken in any form is addictive. Look into mindful meditation instead. LLAP

Breaking the smoking habit is tough. Worth the struggle. Save the lungs. Living with COPD is no joke. LLAP

Nicotine is the hook. Smoke is the dagger. LLAP

My mother was diagnosed on October 2, 2013 with Stage IV lung cancer.  She also had chronic heart failure, emphysema, and COPD.  She was a smoker for 60 years.

Over the years my mother had a series of surgeries.  I was with her for intake processing for each one.  When the nurse would get to the question of smoking, my mother would get irritated, and answer in an unpleasant tone; “Yes, I smoke, but not much, three or four a day.”  This was a lie, a big one.  My mother smoked close to a pack a day for 60 years.

As with most addicts, my mother lied constantly about her smoking. I could hear her smoking when we talked on the telephone, I would question her, “Mom, are you having a cigarette?”, she would always say no.  My children and I lived with her briefly in 2007.  We walked in after school one day, and the place stunk like cigarette smoke.  I said, “Hey mom, were you smoking in here?”  Once again she denied it, even when I told her I could smell it, and the kids found her hidden stash of cigarettes.

She never smoked in front of me, but she would in front of my older brother.  He stayed with her two years ago, and told me her condominium smelled like a bar after closing time.  I guess she thought she could hide it from me, as though my brother and I didn’t talk.

When my daughter and I packed her and helped her move in 2013, everything was coated with cigarette smoke dust, especially the curtains.  It was awful.

She finally quit smoking when she moved to Virginia at the end of 2013.  It was too late. As she had never had any preventative testing because none of her doctors ever knew the full extent of her addiction, we had no idea how much damage had been done.  Not until the horrible day In October when we received the news of impending death.

I hid my sobriety from my mother for almost a year.  I glossed over it by saying that I had to get some blood work done, and was taking a break for a while.  Even when I stayed with her in August, she didn’t know I was attending an AA meeting every Saturday.  On Saturday mornings I would tell her I was going for a long run, I would run to the meeting, and run back, I was sweaty, so there were no questions asked.

In November, I went to visit her in her new assisted living apartment in Missouri.  It was the visit before I left for Florida for two months, I thought it might be the last time I saw her alive -it was- so I finally told her the whole truth.  Yes, I have quit drinking because my liver enzymes were elevated, but there is more to it then that, I have a problem. I drink too much, I consumed a huge bottle of wine every night.  I told her I was going to AA, I showed her my 3,6,8 and 9 month chips.  We had a long discussion about our family history of alcoholism, and how I had the bad luck of having genetic markers on both sides.  It felt good to finally tell her the whole truth.

As we discussed addiction, she shared with me that if someone walked in the door right at that moment and offered her a cigarette, she would want to smoke it, and probably would.  Even knowing that she had ravaged her body with the killing effects of cigarette smoke, she still felt the pull of that addiction, and the certainty of giving in to it.  I understood completely.

During one of our last telephone conversations, she told me that she was so proud of me for admitting I have a problem with alcohol and doing something about it.  She also mentioned that she had really cut back on her alcohol consumption as well.  I choose to believe that was not because she was so sick, but because she was making a conscious decision to make a change.

As my brother and I were undertaking the horrendous task of cleaning out her apartment, I asked him where her wine and bourbon were, she always had one she was working on and a spare.  It was very noticeable that there was none there.  He told me he had gone over very early that morning to remove it all, just in case the devastation of her death caused me to decide to pick up. I was overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness and thanked him for that.  He then shared with me that she really admired what I have done, and he felt that if she had lived a bit longer, she too would have quit drinking.  We will never know.

Cigarettes killed my mother on February 4, 2014.  If I had continued to drink, alcohol would have killed me.

Addiction is horrible, addiction kills.  I choose to live, no matter how hard sobriety is, it isn’t harder than no longer having a mother.

SIXTH STEP

6th stepI am slowly making my way through the steps.  I started AA about a year ago.  It took me quite some time to find a sponsor.  ( I did not know you had to ASK someone, I thought someone would just offer.  FYI to any newbies.)

My year has been complicated to say the least.  We have been up and down the east coast numerous times.  My son moved to Illinois in January, and two weeks later my mother lost her battle with lung cancer.  To say I have been distracted would even cover half of it.

I have been on the precipice of the Sixth Step for months, but every time I started, another distraction would arise, and it would get put on the back burner.

For the past week, I  have allowed my sorrow and depression about my mother to flow through me.  I have done nothing but go to the gym, shower, put my pajamas back on, get in bed and binge watch “Shameless”.  Between episodes I was working on an inventory of my character defects, and contemplating my progress moving through them and working toward spiritual and mental health.

My life is so much better sober.  I am amazed every day at how the things that used to derail my piece of mind are easier to handle.

So here it is what I have done in the past year of clear headed sober thinking.

Letting Go:
I think my biggest accomplishment to date is letting go of all of the emotional junk that I had been carrying around about my mother.  It was freeing to forgive her, and realize that she did the best she could with the limited tools she had.  I have also realized that my perception of our relationship was completely different than anyone else’s.  I never thought she loved me, but talking with my brother and seeing the realtionship through his eyes, I was very wrong.
I am working very hard at letting things go.  This includes arguments with my husband, son, daughter, actually most everyone.  It gives me a sense of lightness.
Perfectionism:
This is an ongoing challenge.  I am making an effort at not being so rigid in having and doing everything MY way.  It was a lot easier in Florida because it was not my house therefore I had no emotional investment in how it appeared.  I am find it more challenging here at home.  I am making small steps.  I have stopped cleaning up after my husband, no matter what mess he leaves.  I just look, shake my head, and walk away.  I am changing up the days that I change the sheets.  I used to always be Saturday, now I am moving it around, I still haven’t gotten beyond a week without new sheets, but baby steps. (This is very uncomfortable).  Wearing mismatched running socks, and not ironing something before I go out.  Taking myself out of my comfort zone as much as I can, just to what I can do and if I can do it.
Criticism and Negativity:
Thinking before I speak.  Big one.  Trying not to pick apart everything and everybody.  When my mind whirls into negative thinking, I drag it back, tell it to shut the fuck up, and remind myself of something good and positive.
Now:
Keeping myself present.  Not worrying about the past or thinking about what might happen.  Again, when I find myself thinking that way, I drag myself back to where I currently am.  I am hoping it will soon become a habit.  It helps that I don’t have as much to worry about anymore.
Higher Power:
This one still amazes me, and causes me wonder.  I am still slightly skeptical, but I am leaning more toward being a believer of some guiding force.  Too many things have happened that I was praying for. My son got a real job before the February move out of the house deadline, and seems happy.  My mom lived to see the Patriots win the Superbowl.  She died quickly and painlessly, just as I had prayed for.  She has sent me two signs that she is okay.
 These two things happened so quickly, and almost simultaneously, and I didn’t drink.  I wanted to when I was moving my son, I actually planned it out.  I was going to drive from Illinois to Tennessee and drink the entire liquour cabinet when I got home.  The 9 hour drive home gave me plenty of time to roll that plan around, and I decided to finish out my day sober, and reconsider it the next day.  A good nights sleep, and seeing things with less emotion the following day erased the thought completely.
Drinking never crossed my mind when my mother died. Not once.  I would suspect it was numbness and shock, my brain wasn’t really functioning with any emotion other than abject grief and shock.  There was no room for booze.
 In fact, since I have been back from Florida, the triggers and cravings seem to have disappeared. I am sure one will come again, but for now, having all this other emotional stuff going on, it is kind of amazing to me I haven’t had the urge to pickup a drink.
Some of the little things, I am working on.  I am learning to sleep with light in the room.  I know that doesn’t seem like a big thing, but for me it is huge. Having suffered insomnia as a child, I have created all these rituals and complete darkness is one of them.
I am relaxing about not exercising every day.  That used to get me very agitated. I am trying not to micromanage my sons life. I make suggestions, but not frequently.  I am not micromanaging my husband as much either. (This one is hard.)  I am leaving dirty dishes in the sink OVERNIGHT!!  And in the month of January I did not buy any shoes, I have had an epic fail since then, 3 pairs in one weekend.
I spent last week in bed every afternoon.  I was upset/depressed about my mother.  I decided on Sunday, enough was enough.  She is still going to be dead, and my lying in bed in my pajamas isn’t going to change that.  I have determined that I am going to get back to my usual routine, and if I get sad, just go with it, not crawl into my hidey hole.
I still have a lot to work on.  When I think about this program, I realize, that we are the only humans walking around that are actively working, every day to be better people.  I still have a lot of work to do.
My associate sponsor asked me to chair a meeting.  So I think I will do that, in two weeks.  That is outside my comfort zone.  I get hives when I have to speak to “large” crowds, but I already have a topic in mind.
 Progress not perfection.

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Is it better to be loved or envied?

That was the question my brother asked me with tears steaming down his face.  We were in the midst of cleaning out my mothers apartment at the assisted living where she had passed away the day before.

Through his tears he told me that he knew that my mother loved him, but he said she envied me.  She envied all the traveling I had done over the last few years, the places I had been, but mostly the fact that I had gotten sober.  As I mulled this over in my mind, he added, that had she been healthy and lived, she would have quit drinking.  She never said that to him, but he had gotten that sense through conversations they had.

She did not live long enough.  On February 4, the cancer that had invaded her, took her life.

If I dig deep, I can find a gratitude in this.  I am grateful that my higher power listened to my prayers, and took her quickly.  I talked to her on Tuesday morning, she told me she was feeling better, by midnight Tuesday night she was gone.  The last thing I said to her on the telephone was I love you Mom.

We spoke on the telephone every day for over 25 years, sometimes multiple times a day.  Her world was small, so I loved sharing my daily adventures with her.  Sometimes our conversations were short, sometimes over an hour long.  No matter what I said, whether I was right or wrong, she always had my back.  I don’t know how I am going to get used to not being able to pick up the telephone to share my thoughts,to gossip or to just babble with her.

I am so grateful for my sobriety.  Through that, I reconciled my past difficulties with her, and finally felt at peace with my relationship with her.  It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t what I thought it should be, but it was the best she could do, and in the end, it really is enough.

Love or envy, it doesn’t matter now,  I have a hole in my heart.  I know that time will help it close up a little, but it will never go away.

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HAPPY NEW WORD OF THE YEAR!!!

word

Mished Up wrote a great blog about choosing a Word of the Year. Her premise is instead of making some inane resolution that will inevitably end up in failure, choose a WORD to define your year instead.  I am not a New Year’s resolution kind of gal, so I decided to jump on the WORD OF THE YEAR, bandwagon.

I have been struggling a lot this year with a variety of things.  It seems like 2014 really had it out for me.  I decided to get sober. My son moved home after graduating from college, was unemployed, then under- employed.  My husband was not happy about the living arrangement, nor was I, but to a lesser degree. My father in law turned 99, and because he is still living alone, we spent many months this past summer living with him trying to get him assistance and get him to stop driving,  Then my mother received the double terminal cancer diagnosis.  Things can only get better in 2015, right?

I have rarely been home over the last 6 months, which has been difficult on me mentally.  I am a control freak who loves routine,a To Do list and being home is my biggest comfort zone.

We then decided to take a stay-cation, which has really thrown me for a loop.

To counteract the mental torture I have been putting myself through, I started listening to podcast’s while running.  I have listened to many from Klen + Sobr, starting with Paul from Message in a Bottle.  I then went through the whole 12 episodes of Serial, which was fantastic.  Then I fell back on my old stand by, AA speakers from the YouTube page Odomtology.  My all time favorite speaker is Sandy B.  His speech “Practicing the Presence of Now”, has really has spoken to me, most especially the segment below.

” We are already all that we can become.  We just have to see it.  We just have to uncover it.

Here is a story about the past the present and the future.  They got together one day, and said you know we are always in conflict.  We are always tugging at one another.  Why don’t we hold a meeting, sort of like a peace counsel and we’ll see if we can come up with some kind of compromise, and they all agreed.  And then they pointed upstairs and they said you know that meeting room upstairs is an historic room, a lot of important historical events take place in that room, why don’t we use that room, and they all said “Yeah”. 

So, the only thing left was the time of the meeting, and the past said, I think we should hold the meeting two years ago, we are all familiar with that.  It won’t be frightening, we know exactly what it is.  I think the safest thing, where we will be the most comfortable will be to go back two years ago. 

And the future said, “That would be boring, we already know what that is, I think we should hold it two years from now we don’t have a clue what that would be, it would be a big adventure. It would be very exciting, it will be dangerous, it will be really something.” 

And the Now said, “Well you guys both make a great case. But, If we did go back two years ago, when we got there it will be NOW.  And if we went ahead two years, when we got there it would be NOW, so I think we ought to do NOW.

And the other two couldn’t find a flaw in this argument, and they grumblingly agreed to go sit around the table.  And observers pointed out that as they took their seats, there was only one left, and that was the NOW and the room got very bright with light due to the absence of the other two players.

I FEEL THAT IS THE WONDERFUL RELIEF OF GETTING RID OF EVERYTHING THAT ISN’T THE PRESENT MOMENT.  WHICH IS A VERY HEAVY BURDEN.

WordOfTheYearNOW

 I have chosen my word of the year to be NOW.  I am going to spend my year working very hard to stay in the NOW, keep my thoughts in the NOW, and live in the NOW.


As an aside, MY SON GOT A JOB!!!!  Thank you to everyone who may have said a little prayer for him.  He starts on 1/19, in Joliet, Illinois.  (I wanted him to move out, but not THAT far away.)  I am so happy that he will finally begin his life.  I have prayed to my HP, The Universe, Mother Nature and God, (wanted to cover all the possibilities) every night since the interview.  I don’t know if it is prayer, the planetary alignment or the winter solstice, but I am so happy for him and his new adventure.

My father-in-law just called, his doctor took his license away.  He is NOT happy, but boy we are!

Lastly,I did make a New Year’s resolution, it is to buy NO new shoes, aside from running shoes, and two pairs of flip flops for the summer, for the whole year of 2015.  I brought 19 pairs of shoes on this vacation, and bought a pair last Saturday.  I have 10 more pair to wear if I am to wear every pair I brought.  The 19 pairs are just a small sampling of my “summer” shoes.  I won’t even go into how many pairs of boots I have.  (I clearly have a problem, I am willing to admit to being powerless over shoes and purses.)

shoes

Happy New Year to you all, and stay sober my friends!

PADDLING THE HOLIDAY RAPIDS

Whitewater-Rafting-boat

Last year I went white water rafting with my daughter and my running buddy.  It was a great trip.  My pal, John, owns a small motor home, and we drove through the mountains of Tennessee in comfort.  I had never ridden in a motor home before, so it was a first, and it was fun.

We got to the Ocoee Rafting Company ready to battle the rapids.  It was summer, but it wasn’t a very nice day.  It was cold and rainy.  We figured, who cares, we were going to get wet anyway.

We were assigned a raft, loaded into a van, and went down to the “put in” spot.  Prior to “putting in” we sat in the raft, and received a lesson in paddling commands.

All forward;  all paddle forward.

All back; all paddle back

Left turn; the left side of the boat paddles

Right turn: the right side of the boat paddles

Over right; everyone in the boat gets on the right side

Over left; everyone in the boat gets on the left side

Get down; get to the bottom of the boat, quickly

I feel like I have been adrift in this raft throughout this holiday season.

We made the plans to be in Florida close to 18 months ago.  At the time, neither of my children were living at home, and I was actively drinking large quantities of wine every night.  It sounded awesome, sign me up, fun in the sun, drinking in bars and on the beach!  Boo yah!

Then in November of 2013, I was struck, by who knows what, and decided it was time to give up alcohol, and get sober.

Last year’s holiday season was s struggle.  I think I was unknowingly going through PAWS, and the holiday’s were hard, really, really hard.

This year I thought, been there, done that.I wasn’t cocky, still vigilant, but here comes the holiday season, easy peasy, right?

Wrong.  My son moved home, my mother is dying, and I am in Florida, with my husband and a pile of regrets.

December has been difficult.  I have been filled with guilt about my son being alone for Christmas, and not being in Missouri with my mother, as this may be her last Christmas.

I didn’t think any of this through thoroughly enough to remember to pack the small Christmas tree.  Therefore, no decorations. There is no cold weather.  Christmas lights in palm trees just don’t give off that Christmasy feeling.  There was no Bailey’s on Christmas Eve, and no red wine with the Christmas roast.

I have hopped into this raft, and have been paddling like mad to keep from hitting all the obstacles the have been placed in the way.

Paddling forward, getting up each morning and trying to be in the NOW.

Paddling backward, resetting my brain every time it drags me into my pile of guilt, or sadness over where I am NOT, instead of where I am.

Hopping to the left side to avoid the Christmas Eve Bailey’s craving.  Hopping to the right to get around the longing for red wine to have with the roast.

I feel like I am in the bottom of the boat every day when I wake up here in Florida, and not in my own home.  I lie there, take a mental inventory and remind myself that I have a lot to be grateful for.  I give myself a mental slap, and go through the list.

I am here, I am sober, I managed to remain sober through a difficult Christmas, and my son was fine being on his own.My mother spent the holiday with my brother and his family, she had a great time.

I have so much to be grateful for, and if I keep my thoughts in the present, I can make it through another day, where I continuously remind myself that relaxing is not supposed to be so much work.