Looking Ahead



Before

 So I decided that this little beauty had to go.  I was tired of people asking about it and tired of explaining something that no longer held any value in my life.  By that I mean that this date, while historic, was no longer relevant.  My life has changed so much in the last four years and looking back was beginning to fuck with my Zen.

And you know how I hate to have my Zen disrupted.

So I decided to make a change.  I thought about having it removed but decided against it not only because it’s painful and expensive, but because this is still a part of me – it just doesn’t have to be on display 24/7.

I decided instead on a coverup.  Something pretty, that would represent where I am now and where I want to be in the future. 

After

“Be still and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10

“Shut up and listen…”  Sherry

Namaste

Sometimes I "LOL"

I’m sober.  I’ll be sober forever.  There’s no question about that.  Trust me.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I’m amazed at how swiftly the thought of, “Just one will be okay” can come into my head and take over my thoughts.  I mean seriously.  One minute I’m sitting around, painting my toenails or playing my eleventy billionth game of Bejeweled and the next minute I’m thinking, “Maybe I CAN drink…in moderation…for a little while.”

What the fuck is THAT?

I mean it’s not like I haven’t TRIED about a trillion ways to do that.  Let’s count drinks…no more than two okay?  No, let’s say that I have to have a glass of water between each drink (which just makes you pee MORE by the way).  Wait, maybe I’ll have a glass an hour…oops…let’s make that every 30 minutes.  I KNOW!  I’ll only drink on the weekends!  Thursday is the gateway to the weekend right?  Okay…I’ll only drink on special occasions.  Let’s see, I have a hair appointment this weekend…time to break out the wine!

And we all know that’s just the beginning.  These little conversations with myself continued until I was back to my old pattern of drinking myself stupid and hating myself for it.

Yes, I was that pathetic.

So why in the name of all that is holy and good would my brain even go to that dark and ugly place?  What’s more, why would that dark and ugly place all of a sudden take on the suspicious look of Cinderella’s Castle with all the fairy dust and twinkly lights and Tinker-fucking-Bell flitting all over the place?

Because sports fans…I’m an alcoholic and that’s what we do.

But please do not despair because it’s not as bad as you might think.  In fact, it’s funny to me.  Not funny in a cynical sad kind of way but laugh out loud funny.  Which is what I do when these thoughts come into my head…I laugh out loud.  (Which makes people ask me what’s so funny and then, if I don’t know them well, I make up some story about a squirrel and a tree and a dog who all walk into a bar…oh never mind.)

In the beginning I did not laugh out loud.  I did not even smile…unless you consider a grimace that concealed clenched teeth a smile.  I clenched.  I fought.  I breathed.  I waited.  And then it passed and I waited for it to return – which it did.  But then it didn’t.  And I relaxed.

And then it did and it scared me to death because it was out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it and what the hell was I going to do if this was how life was going to be forever!  So I blogged.  I talked to the hubs.  I went to AA for awhile.  And I got through it. 

And it got easier.

And now it’s funny.  I mean really Sherry?  You think that you are so special that, after a certain period of time, you (and only you) will be able to pick up a glass of wine and all of a sudden, out of the fucking blue someone call the Vatican because this is a bona fide miracle, you will be able to drink like a normie?

Told you it was funny.

And I laugh…because it helps to keep things in perspective and then I think, what would it change for me if I did drink.

Only everything I love and hold dear.

And then I stop laughing.

Because THAT is not funny.

Have a wonderful, sober weekend everyone…

Namaste

And another thing…

Something Furtherton said in a comment to my last post has really jump started my brain.  How do “normal” people handle stress, angst, identity, etc.  I know for a fact that 99.9% of the population is not “normal” but I also know that there are degrees of normal and I wonder how those, on the upper end of the scale, handle life.

For example, I work with a woman (whom I adore and has become a real friend and is getting married and moving away soon…oops…I digress) who reacts very differently to our boss than I do.  I take things like mood, attitude and distribution of duties personally.  She does not.  My brain immediately goes to, “Uh oh…what have I done wrong this time.”  Whereas her first reaction is, “Uh oh…boss lady is in a mood.  I’m just going to get out of the way.”  She never makes it about her unless someone actually tells her that it’s about her.

This fascinates me. 

I have another friend who used to be my Mary Kay director.  She and her husband have existed for many, many years on salaries from direct sales and a family owned business.  It’s not a 9-5 kind of existence and they have no guaranteed income every two weeks.  No stellar benefits package.  No 401K.  And yet, they are happy.  They’ve recently sold their home and are renting until they figure out what they want to be when they grow up.  The family business has failed and he’s taken a retail job.  She’s left Mary Kay and moved into another direct sales business.  And did I mention that they are happy?  They’ve put two kids through college and been married for over 30 years. 

This also fascinates me.

My best friend in the world (my sister from another mister) has been working at the same company for over 20 years.  Her husband has been at his job for about as long.  They don’t stress about what they want to be when they grow up.  They go to work.  They collect a paycheck.  They love each other and their family.  They are normal.  They are happy.

Wow…fascinating.

So this brings me to the crux of this post.  Act 3 Scene 2 – the turning point.  Which came first – the not normal part of me or the alcoholic part of me?  Am I an alcoholic because I’m a mess?  Or am I a mess because I’m an alcoholic.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • I have a predisposition to alcoholism because of my family.
  • I am also an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACA) which messes with people big time.
  • I am also a child of a woman with undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder – that really fucks with people.

As a result I am:

  • A Type A personality
  • A control freak who likes to be in charge and take care of EVERYTHING until I am drained, exhausted and cranky.
  • I have low self-esteem and self-worth.  (Hey…it is what it is you know?)
  • I am borderline obsessive compulsive about some things from needing my kitchen counters to be clear to starting projects and insisting they are worked from beginning to end in one session (which is why the hubs hates it when I paint the house).
  • I have a need to be loved and I nurture everyone and everything.  This isn’t necessarily bad except that it includes some people-pleaser tendencies which can make me ignore what’s important for my life and those I love.
  • Plus about a million other neuroses that are too numerous to list.

Now for the question…do ALL alcoholics have these same tendencies or do people with these tendencies all have the potential to be alcoholics?

For me, I think it’s a little of both.  Some of it’s hard wired from birth.  Most of it’s a result of being raised by broken people.  The good news is that I’ve forgiven the broken people and I’m working on forgiving myself (which is weird because if I read back over this post I really don’t have anything to be forgiven for…ugh!).

For now I have to close because all this circular thinking is giving this very linear person a brain cramp.

Namaste

Identity Crisis (Again)

I’m having an identity crisis.  An issue with my existence.  Why am I here?  What’s my value?  These are the questions that had me struggling, depressed and crying this weekend.  Is it because I’m getting old and certain parts of my body are beginning to betray me?  Is it because my kids are all grown and no longer need me the way I’m used to being needed?  Is it because I’m sober and I’m not sure if I’m embracing my introverted nature or if I’m just becoming a recluse?  Or is it because I fucked my career and am starting over and I think it might be too late?

In a word…yes.  All of the above.  Check all that apply.
Sigh.
They say that drinking stunts your growth.  That you only mature to the point you were when you became an alcoholic.  If that’s the truth, I’m stuck at about 23 years old emotionally.  Which means I don’t have a clue what the world is like and what my place is within it.  (Sorry all you 20 somethings…it’s a fact.)
In a word…yes.  All of the above.  Check all that apply.
Let’s be clear.  I was born 30 so there are aspects of my life in which I am a grown ass woman.  Parenting for example and…well…and…okay, just parenting.  I’ve been taking care of other people physically and emotionally my whole damn life.  Hell, I was brought into the world to be some sort of salve for two people who were broken and raw.  So it stands to reason that I’m good at nurturing and raising people.  Too bad I couldn’t do it for myself.
When it comes to things like my career, my relationships, my self worth and self esteem, I’m still just a child.  I was talking to the hubs this weekend about all of this and I told him that I’m just beginning to realize how much of my self worth is tied up in my career and my ability to provide for my family.  If I don’t rise up the corporate ladder and earn more money so we can buy more shit that we don’t need, I don’t feel like I have any worth – to anyone…including myself.
(The truth is I’d like to walk away from corporate America and try my hand at writing a book.  Maybe wait tables or work at Nordstrom.  Sell the house and buy a cottage with just enough room for the family and no wasted space.  But shhhhh…that’s the kind of shit that freaks out my kids.)
There’s something very unsettling about no longer knowing who you are…there’s also something very exciting about it.  When I first got sober it scared the shit out of me!  I was terrified down to my toes.  Then I settled down and just took it…you guessed it…one day at a time.
Now that I’m settled into my sobriety and it’s become a part of who I am (hey that’s something…at least I know I’m sober), I’m beginning to look forward and not behind.  It doesn’t matter what I was – only what I am and that’s the scary part because I don’t know who or what that is.
But I can also look forward to what or who I can BECOME.  That’s the exciting part because all that shit they feed you when you’re a kid is really true.  I can be anything I want to be.  (Cue the smoke and the singing angels.)  
However…there’s good news and bad news with that particular revelation.
The bad news is that I have to figure out what and who that is.
The good news is that I am blessed with the opportunity to figure out what and who that is…if I hadn’t quit drinking when I did…well…you get the picture.
Namaste 
Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.  ~Rollo May 

Grateful

There were so many things I wanted to write about today.  They were swirling around in my head and I couldn’t decide what the heck I wanted to write until one word popped in my mind…grateful.  All of the things I wanted to write about had the same thing in common.  For each, I am grateful.

I am grateful that I have a husband who doesn’t mind listening to me whine and eventually cry about my low self esteem.  After 30 years he still never tires of me saying the same damn things over and over and over and he’s still tender and loving when listening.  He knows when I need holding and when it’s better to back off and let me process.  Because of that, I was able to work through some shit this weekend and I feel infinitely better about it today.  I love you honey.

While I’m not necessarily grateful that my 18 year old twins got tattooed over the last couple of weeks, I am infinitely grateful that they think enough of me to have sought advice about where to go and what to get and where to place it on their bodies.  They listened when I told them that what they wanted at 18 might not be what they (or their future employers) want at 32 (or 52 for that matter…just sayin’).  That while their chosen profession now might allow for ink, what they end up doing later in life may not.  Fact is…they are 18 and can really do what the hell they want so maybe grateful isn’t exactly what I am…maybe it’s relieved.

I’m glad that this tattoo journey with my boys has brought me to a good place about my wrist tattoo (don’t judge…I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 45 and I asked my family’s permission before I did it).  It’s time to move forward.  I don’t for one single second regret getting my sober date on my wrist.  It was what I was supposed to do at the time.  But in my heart I knew that one day I would either have it removed or covered up with something else.  Not because I thought I would drink again (by the time I got the tattoo I already knew that wouldn’t be an option – if I chose to drink it would have been a relapse and I would have had to do it all again) but because I knew…no, I felt…that the time would come to stop looking back at what I was and stand present in the moment and embrace who I am.  This is that time.

They share DNA and now they share ink.

So I’ve decided on something girly (flowers or some such) to cover the actual numbers with the words, “be still” underneath.  “Be still” is from Psalm 46:10 (Be still and know that I am God) as well as to remind me to just be quiet and shhhhhhh…  It calms me and reminds me that I’m not in charge.  

I’m grateful to be of service.  Paul, over at Message in a Bottle, put out a request for a letter writing campaign.  If you haven’t seen it, you can read about it here.  I jumped at the chance to help.  I jumped to be of service to him.  If you haven’t tried it, it’s the greatest feeling in the world to do something for someone else, especially for another recovering alcoholic.  So while I love you Paul and would do anything to help, know that this was as much for me as it was for you.  Thank you for asking – it was truly my honor.

I’m grateful that Fall has finally found its way to the Carolinas.  It’s about damn time.

I’m grateful for this blog and this blogging community and all of the true friends I’ve made here.

Dear God…Thanks.

Namaste

 

Tatted Up

As some of you know, this little tattoo was one of the reasons I stayed sober in the beginning.  The thought of having it removed was too painful to contemplate and every time I raised my right hand I was reminded of my commitment. 

In two words…it worked.

But I’m past that now.  I no longer count days, weeks or months (hell…sometimes it was HOURS) since I had my last bottle of wine.  Now I mark the year but there’s no big celebration like there was for year 1.  No balloons.  No cake.  No gifts.  (Okay that one I regret.)  It’s just another day because being sober isn’t what I am any longer, it’s part of who I am. 

It. Just. Is.

I am not defined by my alcoholism or my sobriety…they are just a part of me.  Like my olive green eyes and my it’s-not-fair-because-I’m-half-Italian fair skin. 

It. Just. Is.

So it’s time for the date to go.  But instead of having it removed, I’d like to do a cover up.  So now the question becomes…cover it with what?

What do you guys think?  Any suggestions?  What should I cover it with?

Namaste

“Tattoos can denote the transition from childhood to young adulthood. It can denote the transition to reproductive availability or the transition from adolescent to warrior.”*
ANTHONY NAPOLEON, Awakening Beauty
*Or the transition from desperate alcoholic to contented soberista.

In Case You Were Wondering

I came across this today while surfing (you know…click on link, click on link, click on link).  I decided to post it here in case anyone is out there reading and questions whether or not they have a problem.  The key is to be brutally honest when answering.  Believe me, lying to the quiz or yourself is worthless.  I know – I took this test about a million times trying to convince myself that I didn’t have a problem which I most definitely do.

This is taken from Alcoholics Anonymous dot org.  Surf on over and check it out.

Answer YES or NO to the following questions.
1 – Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?

2 – Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking– stop telling you what to do?
 

3 – Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?


4 – Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?

5 – Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?

6 – Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?

7 – Has your drinking caused trouble at home?

8 – Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?

9 – Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?


10 – Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?

11 – Do you have “blackouts”?

12 – Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?

If you’re like me, you answered some of these “no” and are thinking, “Thank God I could answer some of the with a no.  I’m not that far gone yet.”

Remember what I said about lying to yourself?  Fact is, if you answered four or more in the affirmative (yes) then you have a problem.  Reach out and get some help.  Email me or anyone in the sober blogging world.  We are happy to help.  It’s so worth it.

Namaste

Boo! Humbug!

I’m a Halloween Scrooge.  There, I’ve said it.  I do not like Halloween and I never have.  Don’t judge.

No…it’s not because I think it’s about Satan.  Puh-lease.

No…it’s not because I don’t like the idea of dressing up.  I think costumes (on some people) are fun.

No…it’s not because it scares me.

It’s because…well…I just think it’s…dumb.  Yep, as in stupid and a waste of time.  Again…no judgement people.  There are those out there that think the concept of Santa Claus is a bad one and so they raise their children to believe that he’s not real (he’s not?) and I don’t judge them.  Much.  Okay I do.  Go ahead and judge me…I can take it.

Now before you send the lynch mob, let me assure you that when the kids were growing up I went all out for this holiday. (Really?  An actual holiday?  Puh-lease.)  We have fall decorations for our house AND we have Halloween decorations for our house.  There are bats and witches and ghosts and elaborately carved pumpkins and skulls with smoke and spooky music.  We only give out the best candy (no Dum-Dums in my house) and over the years I’ve been known to get very creative with the kids’ costumes – not Pinterest creative mind you, but I did okay.

Which brings me to another issue I have with this “holiday”.  Why do we take a perfectly simple concept and turn it into a shit show?  The stores now carry as many Halloween decorations as they do Christmas decorations.  And the costumes?  $30 and up for a kids costume?  For reals?  Nope…come here kid.  I’ve got some eyeliner that I’ll smudge all over you. Put you in some ratty clothes and you can go as a hobo.

Yes…a hobo.  As in one that rides the rails…on purpose.  No, I am not making fun of homeless people.  Good grief I wish we’d all lighten up.  When the boys were little their preschool did a Halloween parade but banned scary costumes and anything they didn’t deem Christian (it was a private preschool).  What the hell was left?  Sorry but my boys do not want to be a fairy princess, they are afraid of clowns and Nicklelodean costumes were too expensive.  Power Rangers and Ninja’s was all we had left..every freaking year!

Sorry…I digress.

Then my kids got to the age where they no longer wanted to dress up.  They just wanted to Trick-or-Treat.  That’s when I put my foot down and felt the pressure of Halloween lift from my shoulders.  I knew then that I was no longer on the hook for this made up holiday.   

Because Trick-or-Treating without a costume isn’t Trick-or-Treating.

It’s begging.

Nope…not on my watch.  (And yes I know it has both pagan and religious roots that could make it a real holiday…whatever.) 

Now we have our porch light on, give out good candy and ooo and ahhh over all the little ones in their cute costumes and shoo away the ones begging without a costume.  The boys carve their own pumpkins that they put in the yard only to have them rot 24 hours later because we live in the south and it will likely be 75 frickin’ degrees Halloween night.

So I will be relaxing this Halloween instead of trying to out do the neighbors or entertain a bunch of kids all hyped up on sugar.  I will place my boys (or the hubs) at the door with strict instructions to make sure all of the candy is gone, and I’ll put on HGTV and chill.

You’ll have to excuse me now…my broom is double parked.

Namaste 

Out Out Damned Scale

I’m doing it again…I’m becoming obsessed with the scale.  Even during my first Whole 30 I couldn’t stay off the damn thing.  It’s like a magnet.  I should probably get rid of it but everyone else in the house uses it responsibly except me.  They might jump on if a waistband is too tight or loose where as I jump on when I eat a cookie.  Hmmm – they do it like normal people and I do it like addicted people.  Yep, that’s about right.

Anyway, since returning to eating a more normal diet (sans gluten, dairy, legumes and refined sugar products…for the most part), I’ve slowly but surely slipped back into old habits.  I find myself obsessing about what I’m going to eat and when.  I’m on that frigging scale every morning like clockwork.  I’m constantly concerned with how many steps I’ve walked today.

Really, it’s not the old habits that I’m concerned about as much as I am the space it’s taking up in my head.  If it moves in the wrong direction it can ruin my day.  Really Sherry?  You let a square box tell you how your day will be?  And if that’s not enough, yet another character in the cast of characters that lives in my head has to chime in…How many steps did I get today?  Today I’m only going to eat healthy.  I wonder if I could have a piece of that birthday cake and how many steps it would take to burn it off?  What is in the house that I can eat?  I should log onto MyFitnessPal and check to see how many calories my Pumpkin Spice Latte has.  Oh my God I am such a loser because I ate on of those amazing cupcakes that my friend brought to the pot luck AND a piece of bread with dinner!

STOP!!!

I can’t do this anymore.  I need some peace and quiet.  I want my fucking Zen back!

So once again I’m making a vow to make some changes.  No more getting on the scale.  No more worrying about calories (especially since I know how to eat for my body now).  I’ll wear my pedometer (fitbit) and try to get my 10,000 steps a day in but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.  When I wake up in the morning and my first thought is about the size of my ass, I’ll gently admonish myself and say something nice to me.  When I go to bed at night and my last thought is about how much I ate that day I will again admonish and gently remind myself that humans must have sustenance to survive.  Eating is a normal part of everyone’s life and I’ve learned what’s good for my body and what is not.

I may even start a journal where as soon as I get up in the morning I write something about myself that is positive to jumpstart my day.  Then in the evening I’ll write something positive that occurred that day to send me off to dreamland feeling good about me.

I read a book recently that described alcoholism as the symptom of what is wrong with alcoholics.  We drink to numb what’s really wrong with us. The longer I’m sober the more I realize how true this statement is.  I am one fucked up human being.

But I’m sober and I’m happy and since 99.9% of the population is screwed up too, I’m in good company.

Namaste

Meeting of the Minds

I had the most amazing day yesterday.  I met, face to face, eyeball to eyeball, hug to hug, Amy from Soberbia.  Turns out we live about three hours from each other so we met at the halfway point between our respective homes.

First off, this took forever to plan.  We planned and then life got in the way…about three different times.  This last time was even a challenge.  My niece moved to Charlotte this week and asked me to help her on Saturday.  I told her sorry, I had plans that were made months ago and I’d see her on Sunday.  She wasn’t happy but honestly, she’s seldom happy so it’s okay.

So we met.  Originally Amy suggested we meet at a park and just walk around.  The closer the date got the iffier the weather got so I saw that the town was having a arts and crafts fair thing and suggested we meet at a Starbucks and then go see what it was all about.  Yay!  Sounds like a plan.

At 10:30 am I pulled into the Starbucks…at 4:00 pm I left.  Yes, you read that right…5 1/2 hours, two pumpkin lattes (each) and a small pastry later we looked at our phones and went, “Holy crap!  We’ve got to head home!”  When I say the time flew I’m not exaggerating.  I thought about suggesting we go and get some lunch but I really wasn’t hungry and frankly, I didn’t want to break the spell.  It was like two old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years and we were just catching up.

It was extraordinary.

Guys, I’ve done AA and when I was there I felt a kinship with those people because I knew we all shared the same affliction.  But I never met anyone from AA that I would spend five hours talking to and not check my watch eleventy million times.  I don’t know why that is…just that it is.  I didn’t check my watch (phone) once…not once.

Talking, sharing, getting to know each other, offering advice to each other for different things, celebrating and planning.  That’s what yesterday looked liked.  I wish I could fly to New Zealand or San Diego or London or wherever the hell you all are and do the same thing.  I’m a hugger…I wish I could hug you all.

Oh…and look out Annette, next time I’m out your way I’m renting a car…plan on meeting me halfway.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Namaste