Bull Headed and Grateful For It

I think my attitude has finally turned around…for now.  I’ve definitely been in a better mood the last couple of days. More importantly, I’m not nearly as anxious as I was.  It’s a good thing too because I was reading Bye Bye Beer’s post today about relapses and it really made me stop and think, “Am I headed for a relapse?”

Okay, let’s be honest here…it scared the shit out of me…at first.

I clicked on the link that was included which outlined the 11 steps to a possible relapse (I won’t include the link here – you’ll have to read the post) and I felt better.  So far, I’m not headed in that direction, even considering my bad attitude of late. 

I have actually never really considered relapse as an option.  Okay, that’s not entirely true.  When I first got sober, I plotted and planned opportunities to drink.  I would go on vacation away from the kids.  I would wait until I was sober a year and then start drinking, moderately of course.  I would wait until I retired at 65 to start drinking again.  The list was as long and varied as my mood that day.  It never happened of course because recovery, for me, is a process that builds upon itself.  The farther along I am in the process the more I come to understand why I drank and that I can never do it again.  It took me a while…but eventually I got there.

That’s not to say that I am immune to relapse.  I don’t believe that any addict is.  I relapsed twice while trying to accumulate some time.  The first time I made it about a week.  The second I had three months in before I went to a wine tasting and told myself I would just drink soda.  I just mean that I don’t want to undo all the good that I’ve done…and…I’m also very, very stubborn.  Once I finally make up my mind to do something – only my children or the hubs could likely change it and then it would probably have to be a matter of life and death.  I’m a Taurus…I’m bull-headed by nature.

That’s how I quit smoking in 2002 (I think it was 2002).  I had tried almost from the moment I began smoking to quit.  I went to a hypnotist.  I bought a little gadget that beeped everytime I could have a cigarette and was supposed to wean you off of them.  I tried these filter things that filtered more and more the further you were in the process.  I tried the patch.  I tried Zyban (which is how I discovered my depression).  I tried them all, several times until one day I just…stopped.  Cold turkey.  It was hard, but once my mind was made up I was done.  Now I can’t believe I ever smoked and I smoked for over 25 years!

So I’m counting on my bull-headedness and my AA tools and these blogs and my wonderful family and my growth and recovery to keep me from relapse.  I will be vigilant.  I will be strong.  I will be beautiful inside and out.

I will be true to my Taurean attributes.

Namaste

“Taurus is by far the slowest moving sign, and arguably the one that carries the greatest amount of inertia, so once Taurus gets moving, it’s very difficult to stop it again. In the Northern Hemisphere, where astrology developed, Taurus relates to the middle of springtime, when the world has settled into a calm routine of steady growth, and this is very much what Taurus likes: slow steady, progressive growth.”
~Kevin Burk, Classic Astrology
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Mish-Mosh

I don’t have a real topic today so it’s just a bunch of mish-mosh.

Watched my son and his ex-girlfriend do the property switch the other night.  It was heart wrenching.  They dated for three years and since high school romances are counted in dog years…that’s a long time.  I felt bad for him because he felt like crap.  I felt bad for her because I knew her heart was breaking, even though the breakup was her idea.  Breakups suck no matter what your age.

The oldest child at home is loving community college.  I’m trying really, really hard not to say, “I told you so”.  I feel I’m going to lose that battle soon.

If I have to hear one more person tell me about their trip to the beach I think I’m going to hurl all over their shoes.  Not because I begrudge them the trip…everyone should go to the ocean at least once a year, but because I haven’t been for more than a couple of hours in over five years.  I need at least a week – oceanfront – in a house – a nice house.  Now you know why I haven’t been in over five years.

My nephew and his girlfriend are having a baby.  I let him go “home” and out of my sight for a month and he knocks up his girlfriend.  They just found out it’s a girl.  The timing isn’t optimal but I’m secretly very excited.  He’s going to make a great dad.  AND I’m already shopping for cute girly things.

I’m loving my new space and I’m in there every evening praying, practicing yoga and even meditating from time to time.  I can go in there and my blood pressure drops.  My son came in last night and said, “Wow, it smells good in here!  Like fresh air.”  Yes son, that’s what a girl’s space smells like.

I found some samples of Retin A in my drawer that my dermatologist gave me at my last visit (I won’t tell you how long ago that was).  I’ve been using them and my skin looks better than it has in months.  I’m going to try and stretch the samples until my new insurance kicks in and I can make an appt with the doc.  If the samples don’t hold out, I’m going to their office and beg for more until I can get an appointment.  I have no pride.

Still don’t know what was up the boss’ behind yesterday but everything is back to normal today.  I think my head is even screwed back on properly.  Jury’s still out on that one.

There are lots of other people in the blogosphere writing about “moods”, “attitudes”, and depression (me being at the head of the line).  I don’t know squat about astrology but I know there is a blue moon this weekend.  I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

I have found some great new bloggers recently that I want to share with my millions and millions of readers (she says with tongue firmly in place in cheek).  Check them out if you get a chance, they have a lot to share and I’m loving sharing it with them.

all that heaven will allow
Running On Sober
Tired of Thinking About Drinking
Trying One Day At A Time
Facing Facts About Myself

And if you’ve come across any great blogs you’d like to share please do!

Namaste

“There never was a great soul that did not have some divine inspiration.”
~Cicero

Mood Swings and the Post-Menopausal Woman

I’ve been having some fairly wild mood swings for about the past week.  I thought that once you were post-menopausal the mood swings and the hot flashes would taper off and eventually quit.  Well not for me.  Not only are the hot flashes back but the mood swings are crazy!

It seems as though the slightest thing can send me either into anger or despair.  Then it takes me a while to shake it off and get back to normal.  I’m not a superstitious person but I swear this all started after my Zen post the other day.  Maybe that’s the universe’s way of telling me I’m not as “zen” as I thought I was.

Sheesh!

For example, I came home this weekend from being out with my boys and, as usual, the counters in my kitchen as well as the kitchen table were a mess.  Now this always aggravates me and I’ve been known to throw a tantrum or ten about it but usually it’s been brewing for a while before I blow.  Not this time.  I walked in the door, took one look and proceeded to take off the hubs’ head as soon as he spoke (then he got all passive-aggressive which made me even angrier).  In the moment I was thinking, “WTF is this?”  But of course that didn’t stop me.  I finally retreated to my yoga room for a much needed attitude adjustment, emerging later only slightly better.

0 to bitch in 1.4 seconds flat.

Next was my tirade on a friend’s blog which I wrote about here (and have blessedly let go) which was really not like me at all.  And let me say thank you to all who commented and brought me in from the ledge.  That took over 24 hours to shake off and if it hadn’t been for the post and comments, I’d likely still be carrying that sucker around in my gut.

Double sheesh!

So my boss snapped at me today.  Not the first time but the first time it was directed to something I did.  It stung and I’m still not sure what brought it on but I should be able to attribute it to how she was feeling in the moment rather than a fatal flaw in my character.  I’ve been in the workplace long enough to know that if you work with people long enough they become like family and get on your damn last nerve sometimes.  Apparently, in that moment, I got on hers.  I should be able to shake it off and move on…she has.  Note the use of the word “should”.  It’s been sitting here churning in my gut all afternoon.  And she’s out so I can’t even talk to her about it.  (Which is probably God’s way of protecting me from myself right now because she would likely think I have lost my freaking mind!)

Now, let’s be clear, I am no stranger to this feeling.  It happened to me on a regular basis from the moment I began drinking.  Not being able to remember what happened the night before and worrying yourself to death until you could see the person (or people) and gauge by their reaction what class of ass you’d made of yourself.  Doing something so out of character that you can scarcely believe you did it and then being so remorseful about it that it would take days to rid yourself of the guilt.  Bringing up an event in conversation just to see if anyone brought up your behavior.  Having your spouse tell you something that you said or did and then cringing and feeling that familiar feeling of “Oh…my…God.  When will this stop?”

But!  Since I’ve been sober I have loved the feeling of never having to worry about that kind of thing again.  Except that I guess I misjudged that bitch menopause and her impact on my moods, emotions and inability to shut the fuck up.

So, until I can get some control over these moods and their impact on those in my general vicinity, I think I will learn to breathe before I answer, comment, type (except in this blog), or respond.  I may even breathe before I make eye contact since I’ve been told that my face gives away my emotions like TMZ gives away celebrity gossip.

I probably should carry a paper bag with me – I may cause myself to hyperventilate with all this breathing I’m going to be doing.

Namaste

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
~ Mark Twain

Man Plans, God Blesses

I was perusing blogs last night (and yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon…you say obsessed like it’s a bad thing) and I was noting how the tide turns after awhile.  I’ve only been blogging since early this year but in that short time, I’ve noticed that blogs come and go.  Whether circumstances change or people run out of things to say or they are just on hiatus…things change.

For example, my blogging friend over at Bye Bye Beer wrote a post about her own experience yesterday.  Check it out – she’s so much more eloquent than I.  I would really miss her if she stops blogging but I totally understand.

Every time I think I’m running out of things to talk about, something happens and I need to process it on “paper”.  My only struggle has been staying true to the original intent of this blog – which was to discuss my adventures in sobriety and recovery.

And then I realized, WTF – this blog can be about anything I want it to be as long as I have something to say!  So I go on for a couple of weeks talking about lots of different things, sometimes mentioning recovery and how it has impacted the event, while keeping it out of the spotlight.  Because I don’t want my life to be defined by my alcoholism.  Alcoholism will always be a part of me – but it’s not all that I am. 

So, that’s why I try to write about more than just recovery and alcoholism. 

But man plans, God laughs.  Every time I become “comfortable” with my alcoholism, something will trigger a memory or feeling that pulls me right back into that place.  I step back into the darkness and come face to face with my monster once again – and then I start writing about her.

Last night I was sitting around, minding my own business when something (I can’t even remember what now) triggered a memory of what it felt like to wake up every morning and try to go to work with a hangover.  (There were about 6 years when that happened pretty much every morning.)  The memory was so clear that I could feel how my mouth felt and there was a dull throbbing somewhere in my head.  I could feel the remorse and the dread and the feeling of not being rested.  I could feel the sweat.  I almost started to cry from sheer relief that those feelings are gone forever.

Man plans, God blesses.  Times like that are such a blessing.  They help me remember and not get too cocky in my recovery.  They help me to keep my sobriety top of mind and know that there is no cure.  They help me brush off cravings like a pesky gnat on a warm summer evening.  They help me.

And so now when I come face to face with my monster, instead of getting angry or scared, I place my hands in prayer position, bow and say, “Namaste”.  In other words…we are one.

Namaste

“I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”
~Namaste as defined by Mahatma Ghandi

Feeling Crummy

That’s an old word, I know – but it’s the one that popped into my head today when I decided to express how I’m feeling.  I feel crummy.  Dictionary.com defines it as wretchedly inadequate; miserable; lousy.

Yep…that about covers it.

See I did something this weekend of which I can’t let go.  I hurt a friend’s feelings, out of love…I promise, but I opened my big mouth when I should have kept it shut.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the situation and I’m so concerned, or worried, or frustrated that my tongue gets in front of my eye teeth and I can’t see what I’m saying and how it will impact the other person after it’s been released into the Universe.

I, of all people, should know that you can’t take back words.  Sticks and stones can break my bones but the wrong words can wound like no other.  I’m still carrying around shit that was said to me as a child or a young woman.  In fact, in thinking about it this morning, my mother’s words came to mind.  She once call me a self-righteous, self-centered, sanctimonious (or maybe it was selfish) bitch.  This morning I felt every one of those words.

Let’s be clear.  I have already apologized and it has already been accepted.  But in my crazy ass mind, I have many more mental beatings before I can let something like this go.  I will turn it over and over in my head, analyze it every way to Sunday, beat myself black and blue (Is that you Boxing Bitch?  Welcome home.) and generally make myself feel like shit before I will finally, and blessedly, let it go.

Of course every time it comes to mind for the next couple of months I’ll feel a pinch in my heart.  But that will pass more quickly.

Sigh.

The good news is that as I’m moving through sobriety and recovery, I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more and more and to only offer my own experience and not tell people what I think they should do.  Who the hell am I to tell anyone what they should do?  When I do that, just tell my experience, I feel calm and loving.  It’s like my heart is open and I can put my arms around people and not judge.  I like it when I feel this way.

When I start telling people what I think they should do I feel anxious and worried.  I become consumed with whether or not they took it the right way.  It begins to take up real estate in my head and I begin to feel very judgemental which makes me want to puke.  I do not like it when I feel this way.

So to turn this around (in my head), I will use this as a learning experience.  After I’m done self-flagellating, I will file this away and resolve to be more careful with my words.   I will use my toolbox and remember that it’s progress not perfection.  I will use this opportunity to grow.

You know how when you first get sober you’re all worried about who you will become as a sober person?  You have no idea because all you’ve ever known is how to numb everything and escape with booze.  I really hope my mother wasn’t right.

So here’s my question…does anyone else out there ever do this? 

Namaste

PS – And now I’m second guessing this post because it looks like I’m looking for someone to make it okay.  I’m really not.  I just needed to process this morning and this was the best way.  I’m just going to publish now and shut the fuck up.

Sunday’s with Jenny – Week 2

Down 1.8 pounds.  I’ll admit to being just a tad disappointed but then I checked myself and was very happy.  The goal is between 1 and 2 pounds per week…well duh…last time I checked 1.8 was on the high side of that scale.  Jeez.

Last week was odd.  I’m still in the honeymoon phase of an eating plan which, in case you’ve never been on a diet…you know…if you just landed from another galaxy, means that right now it’s all sunshine and roses.  Things are new and shiny and my commitment is strong.

Prior to this…that usually lasted a whopping 2 weeks for me.

Anyway, last week was good.  Jenny food tastes really good and the plan allows for enough “sweet and salty” to satisfy that need for me.  It also allows for as many non-starchy vegetables as you want (which I love) and fruit to supplement the day.  Overall a healthy, balanced and filling diet.

Except that I was hungry.  Sometimes really hungry.  Not pass out starving but really hungry.  It usually hit between breakfast and lunch and then again in the evenings after dinner.  Well, you may ask, what did you do about it? 

Not a damn thing.  In the morning I just got a cup of coffee which filled my stomach and held me over till lunch.  In the evening?  I went to bed early.

In the morning it’s really about hunger.  At night?  It’s about habit, boredom and the fact that my family room is literally part of my kitchen and vice versa.  So removing myself from the situation was the best thing I could do.

I also added Soupetizers to my menu this week.  They are little broth based soups you have with dinner.  I had one last night and it really helped to stave off the hunger.  But I still went to bed early because I got bored and wanted to eat.

Breaking a habit is tough!  (She said with a high degree of sarcasm.)

So I’m ready for week 2.  I swear this time it’s different.  I’m really very Zen about the whole thing.  When I start thinking about food I recite this mantra, “it’s only food…it’s only food…it’s only food”.  It puts me back in the right frame of mind.

I’m eating to live, not living to eat.

Namaste

“Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.”
  ~Peter De Vries<!–, quoted in You Said a Mouthful, Ronald D. Fuchs, ed.–>

Zen and the Art of Chillin’

When a child is raised in what they perceive to be an out of control situation (i.e. alcoholic father, mother who’s never home, parents who argue and fight, drugs…whatever), they learn to control what they are able to control.  When they are little, it’s things like food, temper tantrums and bathroom habits.  When they get older it can take on a life of its own and, in it’s own way, get out of control.

For me, it resulted in a very Type A personality for many years.  I made every attempt to never be late for anything.  I always left enough time to get where I need to be early.  I had to win.  Had to be the best at everything.  When you looked up “over achiever” in the dictionary, there was a picture of me…likely next to an award or a trophy.

That level of control extended to my emotions as well.  I grew up around women who cried on cue and usually to manipulate someone – so I tried never to cry.  If I couldn’t control it, I cried in the shower or into my pillow.  Never where anyone could see me and never with comfort from anyone else.  Crying meant you were vulnerable and weak, and the last thing I ever wanted to be was vulnerable or weak.  After all, if you were vulnerable and weak you could get hurt…I already knew what being hurt felt like – no need to explore that any further.

The problem with behavior like this is that you are always setting yourself up for failure.  No one is perfect.  As far as I know, the only human who ever came close to being perfect ended up being persecuted an subsequently died on a cross.  And let’s face it, He’s a pretty hard act to follow.

So when you’re a perfectionist and you do something like, oh I don’t know, gain a pound or fifty or show up late for something because of traffic, or lose a promotion to someone, or…whatever, you will beat the hell out of yourself until you feel lower than that stuff you scrape off your shoe.  (You know, the equivalent of a high school freshman.)  You will also make everyone around you feel like they are walking on eggshells because you’re wound so damn tight the slightest tweak will set you off like a bottle rocket.

This is how I spent the first 40+ years of my life.  Trying to be perfect, appearing to succeed but feeling like I had failed…over and over.  By the time I turned about 45 I had reached the end of my rope.  I was tired.  I was failing.  And finally…I just plain gave up.

And that’s when my drinking got out of control (not that it was really ever in control mind you…but I liked to think it was).  Or better yet, that’s when I told myself I could handle it, I deserved it, I had it under control.

That’s when I lost control and started lying to myself.

But oh what sobriety and recovery has brought me!!!  Not only am I sober, which is a miracle in and of itself, but I’m free.  There are days I feel so light I could actually just glide away on the breeze.  Believe me when I say that I have NEVER in my life felt that way.  So at peace.  So calm.  So light and easy.

Someone actually described me the other day as Zen.  WTF?  Me?  I’m the person people used to back away from because I was so intense.  I was driven and you’d better get the hell out of my way or I’d run you over.  Zen?  I can hear my best friend L, laughing her ass off right now.

But here’s the funniest part…I am Zen.  I’m chill.  Centered.  I’m in the light and I just want to stay here and breathe. 

Here’s a great example.  God made me wait a long time before I got this job and I know why.  I wasn’t ready.  While the pay is good, it’s still not where it was when I was laid off…in fact it’s way lower.  I’ve taken two steps “down” in title.  I’m not managing anyone.  I’ve lost two weeks of vacation.  I’m not on any one’s radar yet…I’m not an HP (high potential) yet.

Guess what?  I…could…care…less.  I will admit to a little sting when it came to title but that was just ego.  The fact of the matter is, I am exactly where God wants me to be right now.  And if He wants me here then here I am, thrilled with what I do and with whom I work and loving getting up every morning and going to work.

I have…finally…let go.  I am no longer in, and do not want to be in, total control 24/7.  I have finally vacated the driver’s seat and let God take over for awhile.  I like riding shotgun.

Namaste

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” 
~ Buddha

Another shooting…

Don’t feel like writing today.  Just feel like praying.

Another shooting.  As of the moment I’m typing 12 people shot, possibly 4 killed outside of the Empire State Building in NY.  The gunman is dead.  It appears as though it was a dispute between coworkers.

Some of these facts could be wrong because it’s still early.

What is a fact is that some family will not see their loved ones tonight.  Won’t get to say I love you one more time.  Won’t get to share in life’s little moments…or the big ones…or anything.

No – families will instead be planning funerals and beginning the grieving process.

and Shanti is peace…
Om Shanti…

A Full and Grateful Heart

You know what happens when I get writer’s block?  It’s God’s way of saying…

TIME FOR A LITTLE GRATITUDE

Today I have a full and grateful heart because…

I have the best family in the world.  I have a coworker who wants to have another baby but is having a hard time.  She said she’s worried her only child will grow up and be alone because they don’t have a sibling.  I told her not to worry – I like the family I chose WAY better than the one to which I was born.  God has a way of working those things out.

My new old job.  I really do love working here and I’m so fortunate that I was patient and waited for the right opportunity.  (Okay let’s face it – that was all His doing.  If I had my way I would have taken the first job offered – no other jobs were offered.  God does not work in mysterious ways.)

Benefits that will allow me to return to a dermatologist.  51 year old women should not be worried about breaking out.  While all my friends are spending a fortune on products to moisturize and return their skin to it’s youthful glow, I’m shopping in the teen aisle using products with salicylic acid and hydrogen peroxide and going through oil blotters like they were toilet paper.  At least the teen stuff is cheaper.

A renewed commitment and determination to get healthy.  This time is different.  Jenny is good but I’m still hungry.  Mostly in the morning between breakfast and lunch and definitely at night.  I go to bed hungry every night.  And you know what?  I don’t give a rat’s ass.  Maybe I should let myself be hungry from time to time.  Maybe I should drink more water.  The whole “eating unconsciously in front of the TV or at your desk while you’re working” thing didn’t work.  Personally, I think it’s all in my head.  I’ll get past it.  Shit, I quit smoking AND drinking…I’m fucking invincible!

Community College.  The university life was not right for my oldest child.  He was fairly miserable for the whole year and flunked out of his second semester.  Now he’s at the local community college and, so far, he likes it and is excited about the year.  Who knew?

Student Loans.  Did I mention he was there on his own dime?

My yoga room (studio?).  It’s so calming and relaxing in that space.  I still need some curtains for the french doors (so I can’t see the dog staring at me woefully because I won’t let him in) but overall it’s exactly as it should be and I love it.

My granddaughter making the VARSITY CHEERLEADING SQUAD in her new high school.  Did I mention she’s a rising FRESHMAN?  Yeah…that kid rocks.  And so does her mom…she coached her.

My other granddaughter’s birthday on Sunday.  Love you sweetie.

And while I’m on the subject, my silly grandson who plays Draw Something with me on the iPad but instead of drawing, he just writes out the word.  No room for guessing but damn if it doesn’t make me smile every single time.  I hope he either never learns to play the game correctly or he pretends he can’t just for Grandma Sherry.

My idea for Christmas this year.  We are doing a “Karma Christmas” at our house.  Instead of buying gifts we’re donating to charities in the name of the gift recipient.  And at our annual Christmas Craft Day party, we’ll be stuffing stockings for the Salvation Army instead of spreading glue and glitter all over my house.  (Well…okay…maybe a little glue and glitter.)

The blogosphere.  I love it here.

Namaste

Yoga and the…um…Not Skinny Woman

One of the reasons I gave up yoga in the dark days was because of my weight gain.  When you’re used to doing a fairly advanced level of yoga and you step away, you expect to come back tight and needing to ease back into your practice.  What I didn’t anticipate was the affect gaining weight would have on me both mentally and physically.

Age, weight, and time have all created the need for me to go back to a beginner level, complete with blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps.  My weight prevents me from getting into the poses no matter how flexible I become.  I can’t lay my body on my legs when my stomach is in the way.  Worst of all, if I push too hard it impacts my ability to breathe properly and that’s what the practice is all about.  I will also develop cramps if I try positions I have no business being in.  (Wow – two sentences that ended in a preposition…I’m slipping.)

Anyway, after I began to really move through recovery, I decided to ignore the above obstacles (in spite of the prepositions) and just jump back into the practice.  I’m very glad I did.  Even though I have to fight off self-defeating thoughts and images of myself, far larger than I actually am, moving through space I keep going.  It’s been worth every minute and I love waking early or getting home at night to practice.  Throw in a little meditation and it’s all good.

Now I have another challenge.  Practicing outside of my home.  Let’s ignore the fact that yoga is expensive when done in a studio.  Let’s just focus on the fact that there are other people in the room and none of them look like me.  Nor are they all thin, fit yogi’s but I have yet to run into one that is as large as I am.  It makes me self-conscious during my practice and makes it difficult to get out of my own head.

But I keep trying.  Thanks to a Groupon I have 10 sessions at a studio close to my home.  It’s a good studio and even though I’ve only been to three sessions so far, everyone has been wonderful.  The instructors are what instructors should be, concerned with where you are in your practice, not where you (or anyone else) thinks you ought to be.  They are focused on the breath.  They help you find the light.  They are not the problem.

As usual…I am.

But I’m going to a deep stretch tonight and I’m going to try and get out of my own head because the fact is that I learn so much when I do a session with a real, live teacher and I want to make the most of my Groupon.  Plus, I need to learn to find comfort somewhere other than a bottle of wine and I’ll never find it if I don’t get uncomfortable from time to time.

Namaste

“To the degree we’re not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.”
~Peter McWilliams