Good Energy

I hit what felt like “rock bottom” two nights ago.  I didn’t go to jail– or screw up my marriage– but I was at an all time low– feeling completely helpless, hopeless and just plain sad.  This was Sunday and I had spent the whole day trying not to burst into tears over my foot and the uncertainties that have come with it.

I was on the floor playing Cribbage with the hubs trying not to think about my throbbing foot and the full day training I had to lead the following day.  I started to worry about whether or not it was infected– after all, I am on a medicine that can make it hard to fight infections.  What if I woke up and it was worse?  What if I can’t walk?  What if I have to cancel the back-to-back trainings I had to teach?  THIS felt like rock bottom.  Having a debilitating condition that was threatening my livelihood was a new low and the uncertainty was extremely bothersome to me.  But I kept it all in, because otherwise I would lose it completely.

As I tried to focus on the game, I remembered the power of positivity.  Here I was thinking negative thoughts and scenarios in my head.  I decided right then and there, NO more.  I was going to think positive.  I spoke to the Universe.  I spoke to God.  I spoke to anyone who would listen.  I wished and thought the pain away & I told myself how awesome my presentations would be.  I was going to rock it!  I went to bed Sunday night feeling hopeful.

Monday was terrific.  I woke up with a lot less pain in my foot, which was a huge relief.  My colleague and I rocked our training.  AND, I was able to get an appointment with that world renowned functional medicine doctor who I’ve been playing phone tag with.  They had a cancellation so I was able to get in THIS week!

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Today, Tuesday, has also been a great day so far.  My colleague and I ROCKED our other presentation this morning (which was the more nerve racking one!).  As soon as the presentations were over, the power went out.  The afternoon was supposed to be for us to stay and do records, but the power stayed out, so now I’m at home doing my report cards fireside ❤

So, yay!!  Done with the presentations and hope that things will get better.  I have to go to the foot doctor in a little bit for a recheck.  I’m not so frightened now because my foot feels a lot better.  Even if he wants to cast it, at least I can see that other doctor before I make a decision and feel more confident about that decision.

I NEED to stay positive to keep this momentum going ❤ ❤ ❤

Summer Reflections

Summer 2018 is coming to a close!  Well, technically, we have about a month left of summer, but summer vacation is almost history.  Today is Friday and I go back to work on Tuesday.  I was at school last week for a meeting and most teachers are already hard at work setting up their classrooms.  Most of the prep work that I need to do I can do from home, such as sending out IEPs at glance and trying to get my schedule set up– so I typically don’t go in until I’m required to.

The summer of ’18 was one of my favorites yet.  Normally over the summer there are many times that I am bored, lonely and get depressed.  Depressed– as in– barely having enough energy for a shower and being in a general funk for days.  I’m happy to say that I didn’t go through that this summer.  The reason, I’m pretty sure, is both external and internal.

I’ve made a ton of growth internally over the past several months and years.  By internally, I guess I mean mentally and spiritually.  I used to think that everyone was mad at me or didn’t like me– and I don’t know why I spent so much energy worrying about all of that.  I’m not sure when or how this changed, probably due to the self help books that I read, but I no longer worry about other people.  I’m sure this has helped me to not feel depressed and has helped me at times when I’m alone not feel so lonely.

Externally, the summer was bustling and busy, with little time to be feeling down.  Cousins and the kids’ friends were over constantly, and a lot of time was spent with family and friends in both July and August.

There was that terrible situation towards the end of July when my mother and father-in-law had to take their 3 grandkids.  Since then, I’ve gotten my dose of little ones! My own kids are older and it is nice to have smaller kids to hang out with.  We’ve taken them to the park, the cider mill, swimming and other fun things.  Also, my niece is going into kindergarten and is academically behind so I’ve been tutoring her for the past few weeks.  After our tutoring session, we make time to do something fun like taking the dog for a walk or baking muffins.  It’s been such a blessing to have that time with her.

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Fun at the cider mill– my niece and my oldest 
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Spending time with little ones is good for the heart and soul

It sounds like my sister in law might get custody back in a couple of months.  I can’t say that I feel good about it or support it.  I’m really anxious and scared about it, but that’s a story for another day.  For now they are happy and safe and I have enjoyed building a relationship with them.

Here are some summer highlights:

  • I learned how to use the weedwacker
  • I got all my teeth problems fixed and have an appointment set up for an orthodontist consultation (I’ve been putting this all off for YEARS)
  • I rode 154 miles on my bike during the month of June (my goal was 150)
  • Paid off my smaller private student loan and faced my large federal loan after a decade of avoiding it
  • Learned how to make falafel
  • Read, read, read!  Read some great books for fun and also some spiritual books– my favorite being The Four Agreements.
  • Started meditating daily
  • Started the summer with a strong streak of sobriety– recent relapse has taught me some good life lessons (story for another day)
  • Started seriously working the steps
  • Had some spiritual realizations which have provided me with internal calmness and clarity– I am ecstatic to be able to pick up on signs and messages
  • Got iron infusions and am no longer anemic
  • Planted a garden which has provided me with some delicious fresh peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and squash

Yes, this summer has been a great one!  Today is going to be another fantastic day.  I have a lunch date with a good friend from work and then I’m getting my hair done.  I still need to get some new work clothes, get my nails done, go school clothes shopping with my youngest and schedule an appointment to get new contact lens– all in good time.

 

Monday Musings

It is a relaxing Monday morning, on this President’s Day.  The kids and I are off today and tomorrow for Mid-Winter break.  I don’t have a lot to say, but thought it would do me some good to put down some thoughts.

I’m still feeling rather funky.  I wasn’t good about working out, meditating or eating well last week, so it’s no surprise.  This is the thing I can’t stand about myself lately.  I lack follow through, with everything.  I’ve talked to my therapist about it numerous times and she feels that as I work at decreasing anxiety and increasing sobriety, the focus will naturally come.  I will trust the process, as I have no other choice, although I’m beginning to wonder if medication would be a good option.

On Wednesday, a young man went into his high school and shot and killed 17 students and teachers.  This definitely affected my mood for several days.  Maybe it would be different if I didn’t work at a school– or if many of the victims were age 14–the same age as my son.  I drove to work last week thinking that school shootings are so common now, schools are psycho killer magnets, not a comforting thought since my kids and I spend all day everyday at 3 different schools.

Since the shooting, we are required to keep our classroom doors locked– a daily reminder of the sad world today.   Staff meetings consist of building safety concerns, not student growth.  I won’t go into a political rant, other than to say that we need better help for those with mental illnesses (I’ve had parents who needed their child hospitalized– turned away and sent home because there wasn’t a bed available) and tougher gun control.

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I miss the days when lockdown drills seemed so unnecessary and silly.  In today’s world,  they are crucial.

Nevertheless, as time goes by and the bad thoughts go away and the procedural stuff dies down, life will return to normal and good.

We did have a fun night last night.  We went to Painting with a Twist and painted our pets!   It was a great 3 hour session.  Hubby was worried that he would be the only guy there, but there were several and it was a great group of people!  It was good quality time spent together and the paintings turned out ok 🙂

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One more thing I want to talk about before ending this.  I now have a treatment plan with my therapist and we set some goals.

Goal #1 — Avoid mind altering substances 100% of the time (including alcohol and sugar) Objective 1– Get a sponsor and work on the 12 steps.  Objective 2 (I can’t remember)

Goal #2– Reduce anxiety by 90%   Objective 1–Go on an outing once a week with someone other than hubby.  Objective 2– I can’t remember– I think it may have to do with meditation and exercise.

I wanted to write these down because as you can see I’ve already forgotten a couple of the pieces.

OK– that’s all I’ve got.  I have to go run errands this morning.  I am feeling incredibly grateful for the day off today, going to get much needed stuff done!  This feeling reminds me that I AM getting out of this funk and that better days are ahead ❤

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F-E-A-R

Fear– an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Fear is necessary. 

The bottom line is that fear is intended to keep us safe. Most people are familiar with the fight-or flight response. When our lives are threatened, physiology kicks in to protect us. We are hardwired for self-preservation.

Unfortunately, we may also feel a similar response to unfamiliar albeit non-threatening situations. Things that feel uncomfortable to us also put us on alert. For some, the response is just as intense whereas others experience an attenuated version.

Fear has been a familiar feeling lately.

It’s been plaguing my dreams.

My uncle was hit by a car two weeks ago and is still in ICU.  First I dreamed that I saw on the news not that a deputy was injured, but that a deputy was killed.  Killed.  More recently (last night) I was on his facebook page and it said Remembering “his name” (the thing that facebook does now to deceased people’s pages).  I don’t normally have nightmares, but these quick thoughts that passed through my sleeping mind awoke me with a jolt– and filling me with fear.

We’ve had coyotes in our yard lately.  One day, a few weeks back, there was two.  They kept leaving but then coming back, scaling the back lot line like they were hunting something.  I did a quick double check to make sure both cats were in (I would have been 1000 times more frightened if it wasn’t the dead of the winter and -15 outside– for they rarely go outside right now..).   Since then I always have an eye on the backyard everytime I go through the kitchen.  I spotted another one 4 days ago, around noon.  They make me uneasy–they are so close and capable of killing my pets.

More bad dreams.  Dreams that they are stuck in our yard, unable to get out due to hills in the yard (that don’t really exist)– so they are right outside the doorwall.  Last night I dreamed that one got in the house.  It is too cold to walk in the dark early hours before work– but when the warmer temperatures come will I ever feel safe walking in the dark again?  And if we keep seeing them in our yard in broad daylight, how many are coming through at night?  Come warm weather, how will I keep the cats in and how will I not worry about them ALL the time when they are out?

I have many fears– and many dreams. Dreamed that my special education director directed me to sell a young couple a house (I’ve ALWAYS wanted to sell real estate– so it kind of was a dream come true!).  I told them that I’ve always lived in the area that they were looking at and that I would help them find an awesome house.  They were directed to an office upstairs and I was supposed to meet them up there. I went upstairs and the area was huge with many offices and tons of people.  By the time I found my couple, too much time had passed.  They were SO mad at me and stormed off.  I was fired as a real estate agent before I even begun.  What does a dream like that mean?

How do I deal with these fears rationally and what purpose do they serve?   To be continued….

Update on goals:
Last Monday I found an evening women’s 12 step book study meeting and I went.  It was perfect!  Much more comfortable than the Friday night meeting I went to 🙂   There was about 12 of us, various ages and everyone was so sweet and kind.  I am actually very excited to go back on Monday.  I hope to maybe find a sponsor in this group.

Today I had my first visit with an addiction therapist.  I’m not so excited about it.  She just asked me a TON of questions.  I’m not sure how future sessions will go, I’m sure she just needs to get to know me to figure out how to help me.  I hope that I see a benefit from it.  I go back in two weeks– so wish me luck ❤

 

 

Finding My Tribe

This is so strange, but some of my very best ideas come to me in the wee hours when I am just beginning to stir.

This morning, the insignificant but brilliant thought came to me to attend the noon AA meeting– the same meeting I attended last summer.  I have been meaning to get back into meetings, but I need to find an evening meeting that I can go to while I’m working.  I have been putting it off because I’m anxious to go to a new place and a new meeting (probably because the very first time I went to a meeting, I didn’t find the right place and ended up attending a Tuesday night Mass).  This was a good answer.  I could get back into going to meetings at a familiar place (I’m off work until January 3rd) and maybe get some insight on good local evening meetings from people there.

It was SO nice to be back!  The women’s table that I usually sit at was full, so I sat at the book study table.  We read a small portion of the Big Book (it was in beginning– Bill’s story) and then each took a turn reflecting on what we’ve read, learned or something that resonated with us.

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Gosh, I could SO relate to each and every one of them!  And also to Bill in the Big Book.  I was meant to be at this meeting and so thankful that I made it there.  I was one of the last ones to share and that’s what I said.  “I am so grateful to be here.  I can relate to each and every one of you and Bill too.”  I also talked a little about recent relapses and how after one little drink, I would go through a downward spiral.

However, I was a little cowardly.  I wanted to ask an elderly lady at my table if she would sponsor me, but I chickened out.  At the very end I saw two familiar ladies talking and wanted to approach them to inquire about getting a sponsor– but I chickened out again.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get up the nerve to ask– or at least throw it out at my table to see if anyone sponsors or can recommend one.

That is all.  Today was a great day.  I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings ❤

 

 

My Double Life

telling-secrets-big-e1379620235254I like to live life like an opened book.  I say what whatever pops into my mind (sometimes this is a fault) and I don’t like to keep secrets.  I’ve hurt people’s feelings before because I’m brutally honest with them.

For example, my good friend at work– I told her that I was afraid of her when I first met her and that I thought she was fierce, but in a good way.  I immediately saw the disappointment when I told her these things and I regretted telling her.  She eventually got over it, but was upset for a little while.  I didn’t understand why she was upset, even with my early inhibitions we had become great friends and I love her dearly.

I immediately wished I could take away my words.  There are many situations that I can recall that I wished to be able to take back words.

The secretive and anonymous nature of recovery is one aspect that I struggle greatly with.  It’s as if I’m leading a double life and if people find out, I’m doomed– a goner.

This is most apparent with all of my coworkers.  I am an elementary special education teacher.  I’ve been a teeny bit honest with a couple of other coworkers.  In certain conversations, I’ve said things like “I gave up wine.  It was starting to overly consume my life.  I’m so less anxious without it and I feel so much better physically.”   Nothing here indicates that there was a big problem– or still is a problem.

What I want to say is: “I’m in recovery.  I’m searching for a sponsor and an AA or another recovery group that I fit into.  I struggle nearly Every. Single. Day.  I listen to audiobooks and/or podcasts daily that are recovery based.  I know relapse like the back of my hand.  Remember Dylan McKay in the old 90210 episodes?  Remember how his relapses went?  Yep, that’s pretty realistic, and similar to me during an ugly relapse.”

But what I want to say most of all is, “If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, reach out to me.  I have learned so much this past year.  Even if you find that your doctor can’t help you (like I did) and are the most hopeless of hopeless, THERE IS HELP OUT THERE.”

Although I’m pretty honest with my husband and one of my sisters about my adventures in recovery, they haven’t even read this blog.  They know about it, but I’ve never shared it with them.  I would if they asked, but they haven’t.  I’ve thought about sharing it before, just to give them a glimpse of the angst and struggles, but it’s a nerve racking concept and is overwhelming when I think about it.  It is far too ugly and raw.

So yeah, I’ve heard many people say that they would rather have cancer or HIV than alcoholism.  I can’t say that I agree, the thought of cancer is terrifying to me, but I understand why they say it.  Alcoholism is a terrible disease that causes great suffering.  It is misunderstood by many and minimized by some.  Some may be in a position to share their situation, but I think most are more like me and feel that they can’t be honest with the world.

So for now, I have an ugly but beautiful secret.  Maybe someday I can open up and inspire others to do the same ❤

 

Are You Being Duped?

“Do you ever feel duped by alcohol?  Throughout high school, we were all told to “just say no” to drugs but not much was ever said about alcohol.  The reality is that only 1 in 10 people with an alcohol problem get treatment.  The research shows that the number 1 most addictive drug is alcohol.  It kills more people than all other drugs combined.”

Excerpt from:   www.recoveryelevator.com/re-116-duped-alcohol/

I feel duped by alcohol, Every. Single. Day.

As a teenager, I was duped.  As a college student, I was duped.  As a mom, I was duped.

As a recovering alcoholic, I notice ads, groups and persuasions everywhere on a daily basis normalizing and glorifying the use of alcohol.

A wine festival advertises: Baby on the hips, wine on the lips!

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Really?

Another ad pops up with a barbell that has a wine bottle holder in the middle, so you can drink every time you lift it up.

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Wine or beer sipping yoga classes are not uncommon.

Strength training and yoga are the epitome of healthy activities, would you eat a cake while working out?  That would surely be shunned by the average health seeker.

Facebook pages such as Fitness Magazine routinely share articles that claim that a glass of wine every night has health benefits.  This drives me crazy!  A fitness magazine promoting ingesting poison regularly.  They fail to mention that you can get the exact same benefits from certain fruits and vegetables, WITHOUT the poison (imagine that!).

Why is the public so agreeable with this poison being normalized and glorified?

Did you know that drinking alcohol contributes to anxiety?  Crazy huh?  When I was a drinker, I would especially need a drink after a difficult day.  I probably said things thousands of times like, “I need a few tall ones tonight!  After today I need to drink my dinner.  I need a drink NOW.”  I thought I NEEDED it to combat my stressful life.  It wasn’t until I stopped drinking that I realized that it was the alcohol that made me a crazy anxious person.  Not to say that some people, even without alcohol, suffer from anxiety, it is a real condition and I am not minimizing that. But for ME, quitting drinking diminished my anxiety greatly.

There is good news!  Social media has made it possible for sober people to connect all over to support each other and shed the light on drinkers who want to stop.  I wanted to stop a good 9 months before I was mentally able to and it was all thanks to a podcast I found called the Recovery Elevator that helped me to gather the tools needed to quit.  Prior to listening, even the thought of going to an AA meeting made me cry.  After listening to so many people like me, I realized that 12 step and recovery groups are OK and should not be feared or shamed.

There is a plethora of facebook groups, web pages and podcasts that address quitting drinking and thriving in sobriety.  I believe that this movement is helping middle aged adults like myself see that alcohol free living can be so much better than regularly drinking.

More good news is that the younger generations are seemingly smarter about their alcohol consumption.  In fact, many recent articles address the theories as to why millennials aren’t drinking alcohol– or at least drinking as much as their predecessors.

In September 2017, Forbes published an article citing 10 reasons why millennials aren’t drinking booze.  (https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/julesschroeder/2017/09/26/generation-sober-10-reasons-why-millennials-are-opting-out-of-booze-to-socialize/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/)

I dream of a day where healthy choices are advertised and promoted as much as the poisonous ethanol.

But until then, us humans can band together and refuse to be bamboozled by these sinister corporations ❤

 

 

 

 

My Inner Alcoholic is a Beast

Betsy’s her name and ruining my life is her game.

I don’t know how she does it, but she knows when I’m vulnerable.

Like today.  I had a productive day.  I got up early, made breakfast, dropped my oldest off at freshman orientation, packed up the youngest, drove to work, worked in my classroom for a little bit, attended a team meeting, packed up, stopped at the magic store so the little could spend the $15 he earned from doing chores, got home, made lunch and put dinner in the crock pot, sat down and she spoke.

“You’ll be alone tonight.  Wine would be nice. ”

“Nope! I don’t do that.”  Then I proceeded to feed the pets, make my bed, stick in laundry, work on dinner and finish up some other things.  Then I sat down.

“Do you know what sounds nice?  Some wine sounds really good right now.  You wouldn’t be so tired.  You would feel carefree and oh so wonderful.” Betsy persuaded.

“Oh that does sound lovely.” I thought, for a second.  “Nope.  Not going to do it Betz.”

I carried on with my evening, all while the boys were at each other’s throats (it’s the end of summer, and they are more than ready to go back to school).  Yelled at the boys, fed them dinner, yelled some more, cleaned up dinner, got the oldest to do his chores and get ready so he could leave for his Boy Scout activity tonight, cleaned up the kitchen, the voice persisted.

“Oh come on already!  You have 10 days.  You’ve done so well, you deserve a break.  Give yourself a break.  You can drive to CVS, pick up a box of wine and your night will be awesome.  Why are you doing this anyway?  This is stupid!”

I didn’t respond this time.  I just ignored her and am writing this out, which is helping me see the ridiculousness of this situation.  Wine sounded good for half a second.  Then I thought about how I would be numb after 2 glasses and become distant from my family. It wouldn’t be much fun and I would pay for it dearly tomorrow with a headache, body aches, tired and aching muscles, not to mention how awful I would feel mentally to wake up to another Day 1.

Tomorrow night we have a wedding and I am not planning on drinking.  I’m a little nervous because there will be a lot of drinking and free unlimited drinks.   I’m going to tell Hubby that he can drink and I will drive us home.  I’m not sure if he will or not– he’s been generally sober and not drinking.  But this is his cousin’s daughter getting married and if he wants to drink then I don’t have a problem with it.  I will enjoy being fully present, enjoying the moment & maybe slightly laughing at those who end up drinking a lot and acting goofy.

Taking it one day at a time, and excitedly about to welcome Day 11, which could have so easily been another Day 1.

Visualizing and Continuing to Thrive in Sobriety

As more time goes on without drinking, not drinking is becoming the norm.  It has been 9 days today.   Betsy, my inner alcoholic voice is very sneaky and still talks to me at the most random moments.

Thus far, I’ve been able to shut her up pretty quickly with a “NO, I don’t do that anymore.”  or “I don’t think that I will like the way that will make me feel.” or “Helz no, are you crazy?  I don’t want to go down that dark path, get so drunk that I zone out, forget the night and then wake up feeling like absolute S$#& !!”.

So far it’s working.  I’m wise enough to know that this can change at any moment and will not take my sobriety for granted.  Not even for a second.

I have been slacking on actively working on my recovery.  I’ve barely even attended online meetings (I can’t even remember when I last attended one– probably about a week ago).  I felt the need last week to go to a real life meeting because I was only 2 days sober and feeling really down.  I never made it to a real life meeting–nor did I start working on the 30 day sobriety solution like I said I would.  Will I work on it in the future?  I’m not sure.  I kind of got overloaded thinking about “recovery” stuff and had to shut it all down last week.  That first day of not reading, thinking, listening to recovery resources was very refreshing. I worked out and then floated in the pool and read a romance novel instead of a recovery book, which was a very nice break 😊

Right now, I’m happy and content doing what I’m doing.  I do not feel in any way, shape or form that I am “white knuckling” it. What am I filling my days with?  School shopping, haircuts, last minute appointments (because my oldest is diabetic, he had to see an ophthalmologist– which was a two hour appointment– THEN we had to go see the optometrist to get our glasses), last days of enjoying floating in the pool, cooking, cleaning, organizing, school orientation, work meetings, etc.

This may all change next week when I go back to work and the following week when the kids start school.  I’m a little nervous because I imagine big changes like this could possibly be a trigger.   What will I do if I feel like drinking or even relapse?   I will flood my spare moments with recovery resources.  On the other hand, I might be so busy with back to school festivities, that I might even think about drinking less than I do now.

Visualizing may help me stay successful.  In anticipation of the start of the school year, these are the things that I am visualizing:

  • Facilitating morning IEP meetings without a pounding headache, tired body and vodka breath; actually being able to think clearly during these meetings
  • Waking up with a clear head and energy
  • Waking up early enough to get a run/walk in (this ALWAYS makes the day better)
  • Not running my schedule around drinking, being able to sign up for extracurricular activities (exercise, yoga, dog training grant writing, etc) that run past 8pm
  • Having time for those extra and fun activities
  • Not feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck every single morning going into work
  • Having the energy and drive to push these kids to their full potential, plan fun and productive lessons and being more organized with my teaching

And my very favorite:

  • Sober weekends!   TV binging on Friday night, sleeping in, no hangovers, energy to do FUN things, NOT running my free evenings around needing to drink

And that’s a wrap!  Peace, love and happiness to all ❤