Tag Archives: sobriety

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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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

Symbols of what I most treasure

Symbols of what I most treasure

“What do you treasure? What’s most important to you?” asked Krista in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

And while I could post pictures of my family, my music collection, my journals, my treadmill, my feather pillow, my health, my letters from my mother, or even my emergency stash of Twix bars, the truth is, the only way I can treasure anything else, is to first treasure my sobriety.

Top row, left to right: My very first token for 24-hours of sobriety; the middle 24-hour token symbolizes the many times I slipped and got back up; the 1-month token symbolizes my pride and dishonesty because, see, I didn’t actually earn that one, and interestingly I wrote in my journal later that day, I got it because “I needed to not feel like a failure.”

Second row, left to right: 24 hours, 1 month, 2 month, 3 month.

Third row: 6 month, 9 month, 1 year.

Bottom row: 2 years (and counting).

I treasure each one because they remind me of how far I have come and how grateful I am to be sober today.

What do you treasure? I’d love to hear. Or even better, I’d love to see! Join me in this week’s photo challenge: Treasure

So I Said I Wanted to be Brave. (My Interview With WordPress.com)

So … I said I wanted to be brave. Remember that? I even made “brave” my theme-word for the year. I want to “say what I want to say” and to have my “words be anything but empty.” I want to be brave.

But the universe is a funny little monkey. You don’t just snap your fingers, and VOILA!, instant bravery. Besides, where’s the growth in that? Where’s the challenge?

Nope, instead what happens is we are presented with opportunity — sometimes via the universe, sometimes just because we’re out there looking for it. I can’t help but think of a note my mom wrote me shortly before she died:

Mom must have been watching Evan, Almighty

Mom must have been watching Evan, Almighty

I wanted to be brave.

And WordPress gave me the opportunity to be brave.

Last week, the awesome people at WordPress.com News offered me the chance to be interviewed as part of their Blogger Profile series.

Um, what? You mean, you want me to put my face and my story out there for thousands and thousands of people to see?* Um, um, um … let me get back to you after I finish this whole bag of Twix Bars and these fifty Reese’s Cups.

That’s what the voice of fear was saying inside my head. My stomach overheard and unleashed cages of nervous butterflies to flitter and flutter to and fro in attempt to distract me from making a decision.

But then I remembered the note from my mom. I remembered the quote from A Game of Thrones I shared in “On Bravery, Death, and Why Mary Oliver Will Save My Life“:

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

I remembered all of the quotes on bravery and courage I had just shared on Words for the Weekend (Beauty the Brave) and how I had asked, in essence, what do you do when your row-boat is no longer in smooth waters? Do you sink, swim, or fly? Do you give in to your fear and say no to opportunity? Or do you feel the fear but say yes anyway?

I took a deep breath, thanked the universe, and said yes.

And then I jumped.

Please stop by WordPress.com News to read my interview with Krista:

Not Running on Empty, Running on Sober: A Blogger Profile

***

A huge thank you to WordPress for not only giving me an opportunity to be brave, but for continuing to shine the light on topics of addiction, recovery and mental health. You are helping countless lives heal, grow and connect. On behalf of us all, “we are waving and saying thank you.”  I guess you could say you’re pretty dang awesome and brave yourselves, WordPress.

(* I should add WordPress did not mandate that I share any particular info or photos; they allowed me to share what my comfort levels allowed, and I am grateful for their courtesy and compassion.)

A thank you also to my friend Kristen of ByeByeBeer for the very sweet mention of my interview.

A ginormous “hot damn and hallelujah” and congratulations to Marius of Trudging Through the Fire who celebrated an entire decade of sobriety on February 1. Stop by his post “February is a Great Month to Surrender” to say congrats. If he offers you Peanut M&M’s, keep your shoes on ladies. He’s harmless though, mostly, and he’s a hell of writer. Check him out; you’ll be glad you did.

To my new friends and followers, welcome! Do you like Fritos?

If any of you are debating whether to say yes or no to an opportunity, say yes. You’ve got to roll with the punches to get to what’s real. Might as well jump. Go ahead and jump.

Jump” by VanHalen from 1984

Okay, stop jumping for two minutes and come read my interview!

It’s Just a Sip, Right? (Get Better? Or Get Sicker?)

A friend had a sip of eggnog last week.

“Strong alcohol eggnog,” she said, but “really just a sip.”

Um.

“Does a sip equal a slip?” she asked.

Um.

Um.

Normally I would agonize over a response. I would want it to be wise, poignant. I would want it to be thought-out and kind. I would want a lot of things, but see, I’ve been sick. Right before Christmas I started to come down with a cold. Christmas itself was a blur. If there weren’t pictures, I would have sworn it didn’t happen.

So when my friend asked me about her sip, I didn’t think, I just replied. And this is what I what I wrote:

A slip usually starts before the drink does. Like my flu bug… It was in my system, in my blood, before it showed up as cough and fever. The cough is an outward symptom of my flu.

But when we cough, we have a choice.

We can take medicine, go to the doctor, eat chicken soup, take a nap, tell others we’re sick so we don’t make them sick. We can work on getting better.

Or we can ignore it. And go on and keep coughing and keep getting sicker. And get pneumonia. And and and. We can work on getting sicker.

Don’t worry about the sip, the cough. It’s done. You can’t go back in time. Be grateful for the symptom. Because now you can decide what you want to do.

Get better?

Or

Get sicker?

There’s really no such thing as just a sip to an alcoholic. I wish there was. But when have we ever, honestly, been happy with just a sip?

It’s just a symptom right now… You don’t have to let it get any bigger.

I thought about rewording it here, but I like its simplicity, and I like that it was honest and my gut-reaction. I like that it didn’t give a right or a wrong answer — because every person in that situation knows the right or wrong answer. I like that it helped my friend; and that my friend said, “please blog this.”

I think sometimes we all get too bogged down in details. They will paralyze us into inaction if we let them–like quicksand. They can paralyze us into deeper sickness. An untreated cough can turn into a cold, then into a sinus infection, then into an icky chest bug, and then bronchitis. Trust me, I know.

I spent all day Friday driving around with my husband looking for a walk-in clinic that wasn’t jam-packed. We didn’t find one. So we went home. We got sicker.

Saturday we drove back to a clinic. And we waited. And it was a pain, but I didn’t want to get sicker. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted to feel better.

I got medicine–a shot and strong antibiotics–and today I am feeling better than I have in over a week.

I was getting sicker, but then I made the decision to get better.

A cough is just a cough, but it’s a symptom. And I got sicker.

A sip is just a sip, but it’s a symptom. And, if you don’t get better, you will get sicker.

Sicker, or better? It’s your choice.

I made mine.

***

Thank you all for the support and kind comments on my recent post “I Believe (Thank You WordPress).” I’ve been slow to respond to comments, I apologize; I’ve been a little sick, but I’m getting better.

I’ll write more in the coming weeks. I’m excited to be back. I have some thoughts in mind, and some may make you uncomfortable, but I think there are some things that need to be said. And to fully embrace my (upcoming) Theme Word for 2014, I will endeavor to say them with weight and with meaning. I’ll strive to let my 2014 words be “anything but empty.” (Because, of course, I’m not empty. Just sober.)

***

If you are struggling to get better, or if you think you may be getting sick, please, please, please read this, “It Starts With a Sign,” by my friend ByeByeBeer. It will help you.

I also learned from this therapist that relapse isn’t simply picking up a drink one day. It’s a gradual, often slow process that happens so discreetly we may not notice the signs. This is the reason I wish it was talked about more. Here is a basic primer on relapse warning signs based on research by Gorski. The warning signs that struck me most are feeling stuck in the recovery process and denying that this and other stressors are getting to us. I am the queen of denial. Always have been, trying hard not to be, but it’s easy to fall back into that pattern of clamming up when stress piles on. Everything is not fine. Admitting that is a step away from relapse.

Stages of Abstinence,” by my friend Susan, will help you also. (Susan has been on hiatus, but I know she would want you each to get better, not sicker.)

Relapse does not happen without warning, and it usually does not happen quickly. The gradual movement from abstinence to relapse can be subtle and often underestimated, so it often feels as if it happens suddenly. This slow movement away from abstinence can be compared to a ship gradually drifting away from where it was moored. The drifting movement can be so slow that you don’t even notice it.

~~~

Have a happy and safe and healthy New Year’s. See you in 2014.

I Believe (Thank You WordPress, and Pictures Too!)

The day after my mother died, she sent me turkeys. No, not like frozen turkeys in the mail, I mean actual wild turkeys.

My mom spent most of her final two years sitting in her blue recliner, watching medical shows on TiVo, and looking out her french door windows into her countryside backyard. Most times when I would phone my mom and ask her what she was up to, she’d say, “oh not much, just watching Medical Mysteries and looking at all the turkeys.”

“Turkeys, huh? How many are there today?”

“I’m not sure, a lot though. Twenty? Twenty-five, maybe? I wish they’d quiet down, I can barely hear the television.”

I think I got to a point where I just smiled and indulged her. See, in all my years both living with and visiting her, I never saw her turkeys. Zilch. Nada. Not a one. Neither did my dad–the turkeys either visited while he was at work, or they flew away before he came into the room. She also saw a bear in her backyard a few times too. Hey, some people see ghosts, some see cats, heck, I see cows out my front window, so if she wants to see bears and turkeys, fine by me. They made her happy, and anything that made her happy, made me happy.

My mom died on a Monday evening.

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting on the floor in her bedroom, with a thousand thoughts floating through my head, paralyzed by too many choices and too many memories and, at that moment, too many pairs of shoes surrounding me. We bought those at Nordstrom Rack, and those–those we found at DSW after looking everywhere for lime green sandals, and those–those she wore to my wedding, and …

Then the sound of seagulls. What the what? Seagulls? What were seagulls doing out here in the country?

Then it hit me.

They weren’t seagulls.

They were turkeys.

“IT’S THE TURKEYS! IT’S THE TURKEYS!” I shouted to my dad, upstairs, as I jumped up off the floor and ran as fast as I could to the back window. There were dozens of turkeys. And they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. And yes, they were loud, so loud I could hear them through closed doors. And as I stood there watching, they each, one by one, spread their wings and took to the sky, into the trees, and then above the trees, soaring, just like seagulls, on to their next grand adventure.

That was March 2011.

My mother’s birthday is December 20. And on December 20, 2012, in the early afternoon, I was home alone. I was depressed and lonely–I’d been isolating, as I tend to do sometimes–and I was in bed, wishing I could sleep through the day. Thoughts of my mother were keeping me awake though.

And then … the sound of seagulls.

Except, of course, they weren’t seagulls.

They were wild turkeys. My mom sent me wild turkeys for her birthday. I hadn’t seen any since that day after she died. And I haven’t seen any since. Luckily, I had time to get my camera and take a few snapshots.

turkeys from fb

Birthday turkeys, and my excited Facebook status and picture.
I don’t really think you’re bonkers if you don’t believe. But you’re sure missing out if you don’t.

So, did I get turkeys again for mom’s birthday this year?

Nope, no turkeys. But I got something just as cool.

That Friday morning, December 20, as my husband and I were driving to see the “grand kids” for Christmas, I signed in to Facebook and decided to change my profile and cover photos. Since it was Mom’s birthday, I put up one of my favorite photos of us as my cover photo; It may look familiar to you:

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

Our drive continued rather uneventfully. Though I did keep looking around for any signs of turkeys. Even a Wild Turkey Bourbon billboard. But usually when you’re actually looking for signs, you don’t find any. Something about a watchpot never boils?

We arrived safely and got checked into the hotel, and I decided to do a quick email check on my phone before we headed out for dinner.

I was excited to see the WordPress community weekend-reads newsletter, but when I opened the message, I thought I was seeing double. Like, maybe I had accidentally opened Facebook instead. It took me a moment to figure out what I was actually seeing—here, see for yourself:

Better than turkeys.  (Look familiar?)

I sat there, in the hotel’s striped stiff-back desk chair, and it felt like the world had stopped turning. Like someone had hit the pause button. Like I was standing at a window watching wild turkeys. Like the universe had given me what I most wanted–a hug from my mother.

It’s my turkeys. Thank you Mom, I thought, as goosebumps spread up my arms.

And of course I was crying. But they were tears of joy.

In case someone was playing a joke on me, I decided to check on Twitter and saw the same:

Once I stopped crying, the full weight of what I was reading began to register.

They picked me.

They picked me.

They. Picked. Me.

Out of all the Freshly Pressed posts–posts that were beyond brilliant–they picked me to be included as an Editors’ Pick of the Year. Holy wow. I’m still in shock, and I am humbled, and I am proud, and I feel so blessed and lucky that, not only was I chosen for such an honor, but that it happened on my mother’s birthday.

You can call it what you want, folks. Coincidence, happenstance, luck of the draw … But me, I call it a miracle. I call it a sign. I call it a blessing. I believe, I really do. And isn’t this the season for believing?

Writing “My Grace is Gone (a Climb out of Alcoholism)” was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life. I was overwhelmed by the response it received, and I was humbled that others found hope and healing in its message. I never would have dreamed that sharing my greatest shame, would ultimately bring me my greatest healing. I can actually look back now in peace. While I still feel the pain, I am no longer burdened by the shame that once haunted me. I believe that in writing and sharing my story with others, I am closer now to my mother–even in death–than I ever was. As I wrote at the end of “Grace”:

Death cannot break the bond between a mother and her daughter.

Maybe it wasn’t “turkeys” at all that my mother sent me.

Maybe it was grace.

I believe it was.

I believe.

Oh, I believe.

***

“I Believe” by Diamond Rio (lyrics) from Completely

And with all my heart, I’m sure
We’re closer than we ever were
I don’t have to hear or see
I’ve got all the proof I need

There are more than angels watching
Over me… I believe… oh, I believe.

***

WordPress, friends, readers and supporters, you have all made my 2013 very special. It has been a year of connection, a year of growth, and a year of healing. Thank you. I am forever grateful.

And because it just seems like the right thing to say, “Hey you, check out my ass!” And while you’re at it, check out some of these recent photos of me and the zoo. Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year to you and yours.

Believe…