Recovery

So You Want to Quit Drinking

so you want to quit drinking
after Bukowski

so you want to quit drinking
give up the bottle
clean up
dry up
grow up

so you’re finally ready
to quit waking up
in strange places
with spit
on your face
vomit
in your hair
glass
in your hands
asphalt
in your knees

oh I bet you really made an
ass of yourself
this time.
did you fuck up
royally?
fall off the wagon?
fall off your bar stool?
fall off the karaoke stage?

did you flash the bartender
kiss a woman
grope a man?
did you fuck a stranger
flip a cop the bird
throw up on a neighbor’s lawn?
did you scream at your mother
slap your kid
kick your cat?
did you drunk dial your ex
walk out on the tab
crash your best friend’s car?
did you lose your wallet
your keys
your dog
your mind?
did you pick up a gun or a razor
a bottle of pills
a pen to write your last goodbyes?

no?
none of that?
well maybe it didn’t happen.
not like that.
or
maybe it did.
or maybe it will
next time.
how
the hell do you
know?

ah.
so that’s why you’re
ready
to
quit
drinking.
you’re tired
of no longer being in
control of your actions.
tired
of being a slave
to the demons in your head.
tired
of running from yourself
only to find out you
cannot
ever
out
run
yourself.

you can lose yourself
oh sure.
you can go mad,
give in,
give up.
but why would you want
to do that?

why let them win?

they
will, you know,
if you let them.
the demons in your head.
the fat
pasty
booze execs
their
slick suits
and
slick hair
and
slicker words.
the smug
housewives
sipping their
wine slushies
whispering
over their
pee-no-gree
gossiping about
your
demise.
“oh poor dear.
she was so fragile.
bless her heart.
what will become of the children?”

fuck ‘em.

if
you give in,
they win.
and there’s always
going to be a
they.

fuck ‘em all.

your
demons?
they live in
the past, babe,
this is the now
the n. o. w.
your demons aren’t here
they’re way back there.

why
go
back?

all
those nights,
all
those bottles,
all
those black-outs and hangovers,
all
those times you wanted to die?

newsflash, baby.

you’re
still
here.

tougher.
stronger.
badder.

somehow you’ve had more
than your share of second
chances.

you should be dead.
I don’t know why
you’ve been spared.
like me,
you’ve survived
a thousand deaths.
another
laughing
heart,
another
modern
Lazarus,
another
marvelous
god.

maybe those gods got plans
for you baby.
maybe it’s
one big cosmic
horse race in the sky.
maybe this is your race to lose
baby.

you really are marvelous you know
the gods wait to delight in you
maybe they like you
maybe you’re entertaining
maybe you make them laugh
or maybe they just feel sorry for you
laying on the bathroom floor
beside that other god.
maybe you remind them of themselves
the gods were young and crazy once too
dancing on tables and flashing strangers
gods gone wild
before they too
cleaned up
dried up
grew up

oh
how the gods love fools and drunks
but honey you don’t have to be a drunk
you can just be a fool
or
even better
be the one who fools them all
they’ll never see you coming.

oh
there will be days you want
to fall back.
there’s no help for that.
but don’t fall.
save those feelings
send them to that space
that place in the heart
that will never be filled.

we can meet in that space.
and
instead of waiting
instead of drinking
we will release the krakens.

what?
you thought I really had a
bluebird in my heart?
no baby,
I have a fucking kraken in mine.
and so do you.
instead of drinking
we’ll release the krakens
and laugh in delight
and smoke our cigars
and we will make it through
this day.

so
you really want to quit drinking?

put down the bottle.
do not pick it up again.
ever.

pick up the pen.
do not put it down again.
ever.

and
when they come calling,
which they will
for a while,
you know what to do.
let them keep their
bluebirds -
you
release your kraken,
baby.

nobody
can save you but yourself
,
true.
but a kraken never hurt either.

now
off you go baby . . .
remember,
bottle, no.
pen, yes.
and write write write.
write it all
let it come out of
your soul like a rocket

c’mon baby, you want to quit drinking?
ain’t nothing to it but to
do it!
do it!

then get up tomorrow
and do it again.
then the next
and the next
and the next day again.

but you have to start
some day.
how about today?
this day,
this
one day.
that’s all there is.
you can’t go backward.
you can’t go forward.
n. o. w. is what you got.
it may not be much,
today,
but it’s enough.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

~~~

Inspired in part by Bukowski’s:
So You Want to Be a Writer,” “Another Comeback,” “The Laughing Heart,” “No Help For That,” “The Bluebird,” “Nobody But You.”

 

Brother Jon is Three Years Sober!

There’s something pretty special about a guy who dedicates his three-year sobriety anniversary blog post to another person.

I mean, who celebrates three years of sobriety by writing about someone else?

Brother Jon, that’s who.

Meet BroJo ... proving that Mormons (and Sober folks) can be normal people too.

Meet BroJo … proving that “Mormons (and sober folks) can be normal people too.”

I met “BroJo” early last year after his post “Feel the Beat of the Rhythm of the Nineties” was Freshly Pressed. It’s no secret that I’m an 80s music fan (visit my guest post “A Defense of 80s Music” at El Guapo’s if you don’t believe me), but truthfully, I may like 90s music just as much. So I was happy-dancing around like Duckie singing Otis Redding when I discovered another 90’s music kindred! When I found out Jon was sober too–almost two years at that point–well, that made me break out in full Vogue. What? I know I’m not the only one that still loves that dance. Am I?

Fast forward eighteen months and here we are. We’re both still blogging, we’re both still music lovers, and we’re both still sober.

And today Jon celebrates three years of sobriety.

Congratulations on your three years, Jon. And thank you again for dedicating your anniversary post to me.

Seriously, who does that?

Oh yeah, Brother Jon does.

Stop by Jon’s post “Third Year’s a Charm” to say congratulations, and while you’re there, click around and get to know him a little bit (don’t forget his 90s post). You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer, more generous blogger out there.

And, Jon? Three years sobriety calls for a very special happy dance. No, not the Duckie. Not even the Vogue. Nope, three years calls for a very special 90s dance . . .

The Carlton.

***

Don’t forget to check out the latest Life in 6 Songs post. Find out how to join in with your own 6 songs or by sharing a few of your memories from the series (deadline is Monday at 10 am central). You may even win an Amazon gift code! Don’t be shy, we’d really love to hear from you.

***

Have you met BroJo yet? Which music do you prefer: 80s or 90s? Neither? ;) Do you have a special happy dance? A favorite song to dance to? 

Forgiveness, Church TV and Red Lights

I don’t normally watch church on television. Weekends find us usually watching whatever sports may be on.

We tend to watch more sports on tv  (image via)

We’ll even watch rugby. Those guys are tough! (image via)

Last weekend though as I was flipping around looking for soccer (futbal, if you prefer), I saw a local preacher talking and decided to watch for a minute. Like I said, I don’t normally watch church on tv, but this was a little different; the preacher on tv was female. And not only was she female, but she was an African-American female.

Big whoop, Christy, right? Where have you been? The 1950’s?

No, it’s not that. See, I live in a “small” town; it’s conservative, it’s stuffy, it’s the type of town kids can’t wait to leave. It’s not a young town–the majority of people who live here are old–and it’s definitely not progressive.

(I feel compelled to say that we only moved here to take care of my husband’s mother, who, yep, was old. It was the right thing to do at the time. Of course that took me away from my own mother who was not so old and who was dying of cancer. But that’s another topic for another day, maybe. Or maybe not, since there is nothing I can do about that now. And I really am trying to embrace this whole “Letting Go” thing I took on for my 40th birthday. I guess I felt compelled because I don’t want you to think I’m old or stuffy or conservative or stuck in a small town, though I may be two of those things now. But Let it Go already, Christy, move on . . . )

Okay, so anyway, I remember when the church announced it was hiring a female to come in to minister. “Oh my goodness! They’re doing what? Oh my, oh my, oh my!” You could hear the whispers all around town.

When news got out that the preacher was also black? That was just the cherry on top. Nobody really said too much about that, but you could feel it in their tone. “Did you hear about the new preacher they hired? Did you know she’s . . . fe-male?” With eyebrows raised and layers of emphasis on the “fe-“, as if you could lump everything that is non-white-male within the confines of raised eyebrows and two little letters.

But you know what? Everyone loves her. She’s young, vibrant, relevant, funny and straight-shooting. She’s even made me consider going to church because of how well she blends real-life lessons into religion. I feel like I could even overlook the whole God thing and instead consider it a self-help course.

The first time I saw her on tv was Christmas Eve. I decided to watch because I had heard the gossip and whispers when I went in town to “The Wal-Mart” and I was curious to hear what she had to say. (Okay, maybe I was curious how others were reacting to her.) Something happened as I watched though — I was glued to the tv. She was talking to my heart, and I couldn’t not listen.

or dog shows . . . (image via)

This little guy is glued to the tv too . . . (image via)

That night she was talking about “Letting Go.” Of anger, of resentment, of anything holding you back from living the life you want to live. But it’s not just letting go, she said, it’s embracing and doing the things you need to do (not the same as want to do) to get you to that life you want to live.

She shared a story of letting go of her own anger.

I had a lot of unresolved anger in my heart then, so I listened raptly as she talked about going to the shopping mall, joining the throngs of other last-minute shoppers, and circling (and circling and circling) the parking lot looking for a spot. When she finally found one, another car swooped in like a snake and stole it away from her. She shared how her heart filled with rage and her mouth filled with profanity and she wanted to get out and give THAT OTHER PERSON a piece of her mind.

Her anger grew and grew until she felt like a smoldering volcano. This anger made her think about all the other things that had made her angry, so not only was she upset at this other driver, she was now angry at her mom, her fifth grade teacher, her first husband, and the person who had 30 items in the “10 item or less lane” at “The Wal-Mart.”

Because anger loves to incite anger, her anger spoke to my anger. And there we were, two little angry volcanoes.

But she knew that she had to let this anger go. It wasn’t helping. Instead, it was making her miserable.

So she chilled out, did her shopping, and as she was leaving the mall, she saw a lady in the parking lot having car trouble. It was dark by then and she was late for an appointment. “I don’t have time for this tonight! I am late, late, late. I know someone else will help that woman,” she thought.

So she drove away. And at the red light leading out of the mall, she realized every other person was probably saying the same things to themselves. Even though she was late and even though she really didn’t want to, she turned around at the red light to go help.

She went on to talk about compassion and some of the hardships she had encountered in life, even some of the challenges she faced moving to this small town. Honestly, I don’t remember it all, but I remember how I felt. I remember thinking this lady gets it.

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.
Dr. Maya Angelou

So the other day when I was looking for futbal and happened to see her on tv, I stopped flipping, and I watched.

This time she was talking about forgiveness. And again, it was like she was talking directly to me. See, I’ve been harboring a resentment and waiting for an apology from a friend for something that happened years ago. My friend offered to apologize, but she wanted to apologize on her terms. Screw your terms, I thought, I’m the one hurt, you should apologize just the way I asked. It made me angry (which in turn, opened up those anger flood gates, just like the preacher in the parking lot, and there I was again, a little angry volcano). Why can’t she just do what I want her to do?! Now she needs to apologize for this too!

Volcano via BBC

Have you ever been so angry you could spit fire?
The Indonesian volcano Anak Krakatau erupts at night (credit: Getty Images/Tom Pfeiffer/VolcanoDiscovery) via BBC Earth

But this preacher . . . she talked about forgiving others, get this, even if they don’t apologize. Not only that, but even if they’re not sorry. What?! Blasphemy! I don’t want to forgive, I want to be angry. I’m justified here. Yeah, so what? In the notorious words of Dr. Phil, “And how’s that workin’ for you?”

Then she held up a book and compared it to a little annoyance. She handed the book over to someone in the congregation, and said, “Hold this out at arm’s length. Don’t let go.”

Have you ever tried this? It starts out easy. It’s just a little book, it barely weighs anything. “Piece of cake, right?” she asked.

But after a while, that little book starts feeling like War and Peace. Soon your hand starts aching. And then your arm starts shaking. And then you start sweating, and pains start traveling to your back. Then your entire body starts trembling until you can’t stand it any more. You have to drop the book.

What starts out like a little tiny annoyance will build and build and poison every inch of your body . . . if you aren’t willing to let it go.

Like most, I’ve heard the quote, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (It’s a biggie in recovery meetings.) But I don’t think the meaning really sunk in until I saw that poor little man holding out that book with his arm shaking, ego and stubborn-pride being the only things keeping it up. And for what? Why do we let ourselves suffer so much? The person we’re angry at isn’t suffering. They’re probably not even thinking about us!

You don’t forgive to let the other person off the hook. You forgive to let yourself off the hook. Drop the book already. Forgive, move on. Let. It. Go.

While forgiveness will always be a hot button for me, I can accept that some things are in the past. They can’t be changed. So I can either continue to let myself suffer as I hold up this book that is now the size of an entire Encyclopedia series, or I can drop the book and move on, for my own health and sanity.

Forgiveness. Acceptance. Letting go. Self-care. I can call it whatever I need to call it, I just need to do it. Maybe next time I’ll be smart enough to not pick up the book in the first place.

To close, let me tell you a quick story about me and my mom:

Mom and I were on vacation a couple of years before she got sick. We were relaxing in our hotel room flipping through the channels on tv. Guess what we land upon? Church. The preacher was screaming and jumping up and down, he was sweaty and red-faced, and we were absolutely mesmerized.

“Jesus is coming!” he shouted. “Are you ready?! What are you doing?! What are you doing right now? You’re at home, watching The TV! Jesus is coming but you’re gonna miss Him because you’re at home watching tv! When your friends ask you, “Hey did you see Jesus? He was just here.” you’re gonna have to say, “Nope, I was at home . . . watching The TV.”

It became one of those things Mom and I would laugh about, especially after she got sick.

I’d call her on the phone, “Hey Mom, whatcha doin’?”

“Not much, Christy, just watching tv.”

“Just watching tv?!  Jesus is coming back, and you’re going to miss Him, Mom, because you’re at home watching The TV!”

And then we would laugh and remember better days. Even now, typing this, I have to laugh. My god wouldn’t care if I was watching tv. My god could preempt any tv show he or she wanted in order to get a message to me.

And now I have to smile and shake my head, because I just realized maybe my god has been preempting shows getting messages to me:

  • Let go of anger.
  • Help others, even when you don’t want to.
  • Accept apologies, even those you don’t receive.
  • Drop the book.
  • If you’re flipping channels, don’t be afraid to watch a little church. Sometimes that’s how important messages get to you.

And, sometimes, you can change your life at a red light. (Jonny Lang as preacher? Now there’s a church I’d never miss.)

A chance to breathe
While sitting at a red light
You look around
reflecting on your life…

“Red Light” from Jonny Lang’s album Long Time Coming

How about you? Ever watch church on tv? How do you let go of anger? Still waiting for someone to apologize to you? Why/why not?

* A special thank you to Michelle (MamaMick) for inviting me to buzz around her newest personal writing blog The Hidden Hummingbird Diaries. I’ll be posting poetry and playing with new creative projects as my alter-ego Christina’s Words. Come say hi and check out my first two pieces “Words, Unread” and “The Secret: A Golden Shovel Poetry Challenge.”

Dear Christy, Happy 3 Years of Sobriety

Dear Christy,

Happy 3 years of sobriety! I know how you’re still unsure how to feel when someone says “congratulations” on your sobriety. But since you “celebrated / accomplished / white-knuckled / ate sugar pretty much non-stop / made it” three years without a drop of alcohol, I wanted to write and let you know how proud I am of you.

We’ve been friends a long time. In fact, I’ve known you longer than anyone. So can I just say a couple of things without you getting upset?

I’m so happy that you quit drinking. So so so SO happy.

I know it hasn’t always been easy. I know there are some days you wish you could have a few sips, just to take the edge off, to calm down a little. But I’m not sure drinking ever did calm you down though; you’re much calmer now that you don’t drink, have you noticed?

And you don’t get your feelings hurt so easily now either. I have always loved you, but girl, you were one hell of a sensitive drama-queen back then, even though I know you will vehemently deny that. You loved to stir the pot, to tap the monkey glass, to play the victim. It’s like you weren’t happy if you were not in the eye of a hurricane. Like you needed the distraction and drama around you so that you didn’t have to look at your own life. You don’t do that so much anymore, and I appreciate that. You are enough. You don’t need to hide in others’ drama.

I love that I feel like I can trust you more now. That’s a big deal to me, and I know it is to you too. See, I used to worry about you. When you went out to the store especially, because I never knew if you would come home with a bottle of wine or vodka hidden in your purse. And I never really knew who was talking — you or the alcohol — because you used to say some really hurtful things. And I never knew if you were telling the truth when you said that you were “fine.” You think I didn’t see the self-inflicted bruises? The bite marks? You were in so much pain, just looking for any way to make it stop. It made me so sad. I know, I know. I’m not saying any of this to hurt you, Christy. Rather I’m saying this because I see how far you’ve come from who and where you were.

Some things haven’t changed entirely; I know you still get anxious about stuff, like crowds and last-minute changes and cancer. I know you still feel guilty sometimes putting your sobriety first. I know you’re sad that you’ve had to let some people from your past go, but they kept you small, Christy. They kept you small because your growth scared them, so they tried to keep you in the past however they could. But you are learning to let go. Like poet David Whyte wrote:

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

I know you miss your mom and your dog and your family terribly. I know you miss your home state; I know you’re lonely where you are. I know people say shitty things on-line sometimes about alcoholics or make careless jokes, and that others jump to conclusions about you–or even ignore you all together–without trying to get to know you, and that some are jealous of you and how good life seems to be for you. Sometimes it’s hard to face these things without wanting to drink. But seriously, Christy? I am so proud of you.

Like I said, I have always loved you. But for a while there, I’m not sure I really liked you. You weren’t very likable for a while, I know you know what I mean. But now? I like you. A lot. I admire you. I think you are awesome, and brave, and dedicated, and strong. I think you are perfect. I am so proud of you. And if you ever need to be reminded, just ask me. I will always remind you.

And, oh, that smile. How I missed your smile. You radiate when you smile, just like sunshine. You’ve been in the clouds for far too long, Christy, come out. You were born to shine.

Happy 3 Years.

Love,

Christy

***

Wish you were here, wish you could see this place Wish you were near, I wish I could touch your face The weather's nice, it's paradise It's summertime all year and there's some folks we know They say, "Hello", I miss you so, wish you were here ...

“Wish you were here, wish you could see this place
Wish you were near, I wish I could touch your face”
– “Wish You Were Here” by Mark Wills (video)

 

Dear Christy,

Did you get my letter? I wrote it to you yesterday on your 3 year sobriety anniversary. I had to sign it with your name, but I think you knew who it was really from.

You wonder so often if I can see you. If I am proud of you.

Child. Sweet child of mine. I never left you. I didn’t go anywhere. I am not gone.

Look in the mirror, Christy.

Look at your face, your hands, your hair, your teeth, your nose, your chicken pox scar, look inside and out. Don’t you see? You are me. I am in you. I gave life to you; my life is in you. Don’t you ever ever feel that I have left you. I am by your side always, forever and ever. You are my living legacy. You never lost your grace; your grace is not gone. You are grace. You are MY grace.

And I am so proud of you, every second of every day. I could never be anything but proud. You know that, you feel that. I know, because I am you.

Never doubt. Believe always.

I know you read Einstein and Emily, about the little dog? It was the last book I read. Read it again for me. Pay extra attention to the story.

Tomorrow you will wake up and read this.
You will wonder, “did I write this in the mid of night? Or did she?”
It will be your choice to believe or not to believe.
I am you. I already know your answer.

Remember, I love you and I am so proud of you. You are my perfect, sweet child. You are mine. I am with you always.

Love,

Mom

PS- Spot sends her love. What a sweet girl she is. She misses you so much, but has fun playing with us all. She says Jimi Hendrix smells like cinnamon gum. She says she loves you. She says she sends you chickens all the time like you asked; she asks if you believe? She says you will understand.

chicken believe spot

One of my daily chickens. This one from, of all places, a butter commercial. Truly, I can’t make this stuff up.

 ***

I believe in the spirit of Rock N Roll
In the eternal strength of the immortal soul
Cause sometimes everybody’s gotta let it go
I believe in the power of love

“I Believe” by Cowboy Mouth

***

 * A HUGE thank-you to Hippie Cahier for deeming May 6 as “Phenomenal Woman Day” and for including me, alongside her daughter, in her very Very touching post “Phenomenal Woman Day.”

* Thanks to Jennie for letting me play on her blog last week. Come check out my 300 word “Flash Fiction” piece, “We’s All Got Our Breaking Points, Child,” about a shotgun-toting, oatmeal-despising grandma. I think she has a few more stories to tell us, so let me know if you like her!

* More thanks to Jennie for the sweetest post and song dedication yesterday in honor of my 3 years. I love you, Coach Diddy!

* I’m not the only one with a May 6 sobriety date. Congrats to Laurie for 2 years of sobriety yesterday. And huge congrats to Paul who celebrated his 3 years of sobriety on Sunday, May 4, by running his first half-marathon (in the very badass time of 2:15, what?! I’m kicking you out of the turtle club! j/k)

* And it goes without saying … thank you to each and every one of you, my friends and readers, for supporting and encouraging me over the last year. It’s been a hell of a ride, that’s for sure. I’m grateful for my sobriety, I’m grateful for this network, and I’m grateful for you. Thank you. Here, have some Fritos. ;)

* So what are you all having for dinner tonight to celebrate my three years of sobriety (and Paul’s and Laurie’s anniversaries too)? How about TWIX and Reese’s Cups and Bacon Pizza and CAKE?! It’s okay to “stretch the truth” — What’s on the celebration menu? …  Who else is celebrating sobriety (of any length)? How long do you have? Or if you love someone who is sober/clean, how long does your loved one have? 

***

The Bubble Hour (reblog)

runningonsober:

My good friend Kristen from ByeByeBeer will be participating in “The Bubble Hour” podcast (an excellent sobriety resource) TONIGHT (Sunday, March 2), along with fellow bloggers Mrs D, One Crafty Mother, and UnPickled. Swing by Kristen’s post for details and to congratulate her. I couldn’t be prouder for these fine ladies. You can listen in tonight, or download and listen at your convenience; details are in Kristen’s post. -christy

Originally posted on ByeByeBeer:

Once, hours before hosting a dinner party, my husband and I decided to change the light fixtures on a ceiling fan we’d scarcely noticed before. Nevermind that the food and hosts still needed work or that this involved a Saturday afternoon trip to Home Depot. Swapping out perfectly good sconces for almost identical ones became the number one priority.

If you notice my theme looks different, you’re not imagining it. (If you didn’t, uh, nevermind?) I came in to put up a short post and changed all the sconces instead. It was an accident at first because I couldn’t figure out how to get the column-thingies at the bottom to appear on the right without changing the theme and this is why I like words like ‘sconce’. They are soothing and they distract and deflect.

I’m going to be on a podcast tonight called The Bubble Hour with fellow sober…

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