Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fear

     Fear is a short little four letter word that has such large implications that I don't think the human race has fully been able to comprehend its meaning.
     Today my mom went to a hospital hundreds of miles away for a very serious, life endangering surgery and I had to stay behind to make sure my dad was taken care of.  I have always been the main caregiver of my entire family from the time I was old enough to carry a wet wash cloth to the sick bed of whoever was sick.  I have been the confidante for secrets and confessions that most priests don't even want to hear.  When my step grandfather was so drunk he couldn't walk across the floor,  as a child I would sit beside him on the floor and wipe the vomit from his face until he slept it off enough to be helped to the bed.   I remember being called 'little momma' from a very early age because I was such a care taker.   I don't remember having a fulfillment or enjoyment from the care-taking, but I do remember having thoughts of, 'if I don't do it, who will?'
     When my grandmother and great grandmother both became ill from the effects of breast cancer, other family members tried to persuade my mom to have them both admitted to nursing homes.  However, I took it as another call for 'little momma' to come home and take care of the family once again.  I moved home and gave my life to them for four years but I don't regret it because I have fond memories that no other family will ever have.  I learned of stories and adventures that no other family member will ever be able to experience first hand.  Both my grandmothers died within a month and 3 days of each other.  My great grandmother 'Granny' was buried on this day in 1996.  A month and 3 days later, Grandma LeMerle was buried right next to her.  Today my mother went into the hospital many miles from me and I feel so very helpless right now.
     Fear overtook me and I turned to the only thing that has been able to calm my fears for a long time.  Yes, I heard the calming voice of alcohol once again.  I only had one drink and it was enough to quiet my fears down.  But, then I had another fear of someone finding out so I put water in the bottle hoping to hide my slip up.  But, when my husband came in to fix his drink of the day...well, you can guess the rest of the story.  Even though I wasn't drunk or even feeling the effects of the liquid, that one drink which was supposed to quiet my fears opened up the doorway to my husband's fears.  His fear of seeing me back in the condition I once was.
      All the wounds that have been healed over the course of the last few months, were re-opened with one drink and the lie of trying to hide it.   All because of FEAR.
      Honestly, I have feared this day for a long time.  I understand why when someone goes in for detox and recovery that they are kept away from the general population for a length of time.  It's not to keep them away from people so much as it is to keep them away from the 'call of the drink'.   You always hear it, but when it's not right in your house and right in your sights you have time to re-think your actions before answering the call.    
      FEAR of loosing my mother, FEAR of letting the family down, FEAR of never being enough, FEAR FEAR FEAR!!!!!     FEAR of being mis-understood!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

S T R E S S

     Every addict no matter what the addiction has a 'trigger' that is like shooting a bullet from a gun.  The trigger will send a normally responsible person into a state of insanity!  The addict will find themselves fighting an internal battle against the forces of his/her own mind.  I know because I AM an addict!  When I started down the road and journey toward recovery I thought my only addiction was to alcohol.  But throughout the process of learning myself, I have discovered that I'm also addicted to food and acceptance of people.  I have learned this addiction is called being co-dependent!  As times goes by, I will probably discover that there is other addictions that I have yet to acknowledge.  

     Stress is my biggest trigger to pushing me toward the desire to succumb to the beckoning of the bottle.  The first signs of stress when I feel my body tensing like a rubber band that is being wound too tight, my taste buds also start to salivate as my mind begins to remember the 'relaxing effects' of the alcohol.    This is when my struggle begins as I fight against the draw to alcohol.   I instantly become short tempered and I know this about myself so I try to distance myself from my family because I KNOW I have caused them too much pain  when I was still drinking.  So in my mind, to prevent further pain and confusion, I try to distance myself until the wave of strong alcohol desire subsides.  However, my family doesn't understand the sudden withdrawal and misunderstand my actions as hostility towards them and some even speculate that I am secretly drinking again.  It becomes a vicious circle because their negative feelings lead me into further stress and my stress leads them into further negative feelings!

     Thankfully, I have an understanding husband who has been to hell and back with me and has learned when he sees the cycle begin, he will lovingly pull me off to the side and support me as I am able to talk my feelings out.  I know the importance of having a 'sponsor' with any addiction but I also understand about having a supportive spouse in the recovery process.

   S T R E S S  =  stinking thinking resulting everytime stress succumbs!!  So I am learning (because the learning process never stops) to stop thinking, relax, enjoy, sweet surroundings.  In other words, when S T R E S S beckons me to take a drink, I will remind myself that there is a true beauty to beheld in not only family relations but life in general when I just take the time to open my eyes, heart, and soul.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mistakes

Well, I was doing good, or so I thought...but on June 9, 2011 I not only fell off the wagon but I took a diving leap off the wagon!!

I don't remember my thought process before taking the first drink other than I was tired from a strenuous night at work and I wanted to relax so that I could sleep.  I do remember thinking, 'surely one little drink won't hurt'  WRONG!!!  When I woke up and realized that not only had I lied to my husband about being drunk when he called me, but I had lied to myself about being a true alcoholic!  I felt so ashamed and embarrassed!  I didn't want to face my family much less myself in the mirror!  When my husband came home and I had to face the pain in his face after seeing such pride in his eyes when I got sober, it was heart wrenching!  I wanted to sit still as the dirt fell in on me from the deep whole I had just dug thereby burying myself under the weight of guilt, pain, embarrassment, and shame!  A part of me hoped that the heavy burden would be too much for my heart to handle and that I would die never having to face the realization of what I had done.  It was a horrible realization but freeing at the same time.

I had taken the step a few weeks before to publicly admit that I was an alcoholic.  Now, I had NO choice but to stand in front of the mirror and admit to myself that I was an alcoholic and had NO control over alcohol!  That was my realization.  I started the process of AA to satisfy my family and I had convinced myself that I really wasn't an alcoholic as long as I only took a 'little drink' from time to time.   However, on that day, I had to comprehend that for me there was no such thing as 'a little drink'!

I had finally realized that alcohol had taken me on road I didn't want or intend to be on and had then kept me there longer than I wanted to stay.    My mistake was not in taking that first drink but rather in THINKING that I COULD take that first drink!  I now KNEW that for me, alcohol in any capacity was poison to my mind, body, and soul and would NEVER again allow me to consume it in moderation!  I also realized that simply saying I would never drink again was not good enough!  I had to not allow myself to touch it!  To even feel the shape of the bottle in my hand started my mind in remembering the warmth of the poison going down my throat, the feeling of being lifted into oblivion, and the warped thinking that 'I wasn't hurting anyone by simply relaxing'!!

I always heard the saying that 'facing oneself was the hardest person to face'  but I never understood it until this episode.  Will I stay sober...only time will tell.  AND THAT my friends is an honest answer!!  But I can say that I am progressing towards a lifetime of sobriety and that is done one step at a time, one day at a time, and even one minute at a time!  Today I am sober and even though I don't hold onto the past, I have to remember it so that I can learn from it while NOT repeating it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a word that we all struggle to achieve from our family members, co-workers, friends, and even our neighbors for subjecting them to our drunken fits held publicly in the front yard!    However, the one person who is the hardest to ask forgiveness from is the one person who HAS to forgive us for us to go to the next level of healing.  That person is 'self'.  We have to learn to forgive ourselves before the forgiveness of anyone else can add to the healing aspect of our recovery.

We say the words, 'I forgive myself' but do we?  Or do we constantly replay our past mistakes in our minds and constantly rethink our bad choices all along the way.  'if I turned left instead of turning right, if i had went straight home after the party, if i had never started drinking in the first place'  If, If, If....we have all said it applying to all aspects of our lives.  But we can't go back in a time machine and rearrange our actions altering the course we have already walked.  We can't take back words already put in the air.  We can't take back emotions or actions or thoughts, or scars.  All we can do is to keep putting one foot in the front of the other, one step at a time, one day at a time and pray that when situations come up again that may cause us to stray from the sober path, that we will be strong enough to avoid the bad choices and continue on the right path.

In the meantime along our journey we can only 'forgive ourselves' and lay down at the end of each day knowing that our healing has ultimately got to come from God above and from within in our minds and souls.  We have to forgive ourselves even when others are too hurt to forgive us for that is truly the biggest step in finding peace!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lines

Through the journey of coming to realistic terms of my alcoholism,  I have had to come to terms with the aspects of my life that have made me into an alcoholic.  Some if not most of the aspects are very difficult to admit and come to terms with.  Aspects such as childhood abuses from trusted adults, domestic abuses both verbally and physically in my own adulthood, extreme low self esteem, as well as many other aspects caused from just feeling like crap all the way from my insides to my outsides.  Never feeling like I was worth the time of day.   Alcohol was my friend during such low moments.  Alcohol was never judgmental of my mistakes or bad choices in life.  Alcohol was always warming to the cold depths of my being.  Alcohol was always welcoming no matter the time of day or night.  Alcohol never cared what I was wearing or how my hair and make up looked.   Alcohol was my comforter in times of sadness or depression.  Alcohol was always forgiving for the many times I did leave it alone for months and even years on end and always embraced me without hesitation when I did pick it up again. I never had to justify myself to the alcohol or explain my actions, feelings, or thoughts.  

So why then if alcohol was my friend, do I now find myself trying desperately to escape its grip?  Because alcohol was my enemy and will never be my friend again I just didn't know it until now!  The realization of the death grip that alcohol had on me causes me great sadness.  I have allowed alcohol to ruin many relationships with family that will probably never be able to be able repaired but I can pray for restoration.

Is it true that family genes and heredity add to the possibility of alcoholism?  Probably so but it is not the deciding factor on the victims that get sucked into the vortex of alcoholism.   I have other family members who have not fallen prey to the demon in the bottom of the bottle.  So then why did I become such a willing victim.    That answer dear friends, is where the individual work begins for every recovering addict no matter the addiction.  We all wonder how and why we got to this place.  Why us?  When and how did it happen?  We didn't just wake up one day and say, 'i think i want to grow up and be a drunk.'.

Ultimately, the how's and why's don't matter as much as the fact that  We ARE ALCOHOLICS and only avoidance of the twisted liquid will ever free us long enough to maybe figure how to find the strength, courage, and determination to gain the strength that will keep us sober.  

Each time we wake from a drunken stupor we 'draw a line in the sand of life' and say' Never again'  but the waves of life soon come up and erase the line the we so determinedly drew.  So the only way we can stop the cycle is to draw the line in 'cement of determination and conviction'.  A line that is drawn in sand can and will easily be erased and forgotten but a line drawn in cement will forever be edged in our minds and hearts and will constantly remind us of where we came from as drunks to the where we are now as sober individuals.  

Even though none of us like to think of our sorted pasts or past mistakes, we must remember so that we can appreciate where we are today.  We must remember the destructive path we walked to now know the importance of the road to sobriety for not only for our loved ones but for ourselves.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reinforcement

     While studying the AA principles today, I learned about the principle of reinforcement that is gained after an alcoholic relapses.   It simply stated, 'A relapse brings truth to what we hear repeatedly in meetings — “Don’t take that first drink!” It reinforces the belief in the progressive nature of the disease, and it drives home the need for, and beauty of, humility in our spiritual program.'   This is a direct quote from the Daily Reflections posted on May 25, 2011.  
     The quote really took me aback as I was forced to think about relapses.  I have been very strong over the 11 days of this journey so I couldn't imagine that relapse would be a problem for me!   However, I had to get real and truthful with myself and admit that I was powerless over the alcohol and in truth have been craving it's effects for days.  Each time my family tells me how proud they are of me, I smile and it does strengthen my endeavors to stay sober, but it DOES NOT take away the craving!  
     These struggles with the cravings have caused me to search within myself to see why I have these cravings for a liquid that could destroy everything I have come to love and depend on as well as possible end my very life.  How could something that has such a negative impact on a person be refreshing at the same time?  Refreshing from the stresses and burdens of daily life, BUT....only for a moment.  Then, the thoughts of past failures all the way back to your childhood start to surface and there is no longer any refreshment from the alcohol.  The alcohol becomes a tool in which to then forget.  However, that doesn't work either!  Thus the confusing, troublesome, and destructive circle begins and ends with the alcohol.  
     Over my lifetime I have heard many explanations for the strong call of alcohol over a person all the way from it being a spiritual demon, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a food allergy, and even low self esteem.  Rather debate about the differences or similarities in all these explanations, I choose to believe that there is partial truth in each of them.    In some form or fashion, a spiritual demon initially leads to the introduction of the alcohol.  If you have any sort of chemical imbalance in your brain (which most humans do) the struggle to stay away from the alcohol is increased.  Then as your resistance weakens, your body developments an actual allergy to the sugar and grains that make up the alcohol thus when you drink the ill effects such as blurred vision, slurred speech, inability to think clearly, the ability to control body functions and emotions, and even the ability to stand up  get worse each time you drink.   When all this occurs, the self esteem of being a sexy, smart, productive, beautiful person turns into the exact opposite when you wake the next day to realize how you acted the night before.  It doesn't help matters in todays technical world when your 'friends' capture your drunken state on video and pictures!  
     So I ask myself again, WHY would I willingly pour a liquid into my body that would send me back to such a dark place?  The simple truth is because like almost every other true alcoholic, I always have the deep desire to control the alcohol instead of the other way around.  I want to be able to drink again like most people do.  I would love to be able to sit in the pool with my husband and have a cold beer.  I would really enjoy toasting our anniversary or New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne like we used to.  But...the truth I have to deal with everyday is that I have to avoid the first drink because if I don't there will always be a second, third, fourth, etc etc etc until I'm lost again in the bottom of a bottle.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Storms

     There sure have been a lot of severe storms lately, especially tornadoes.  I heard one news caster this morning give the high death statics for this year alone and it was in the thousands just for the U.S.  I watched as one young couple were interviewed and relived their horrific tale of terror of holding onto to each other for dear life as their home and both vehicles were destroyed around them.  Hearing their story really made me take personal stock in myself and my past actions as an alcoholic.
     I am so very thankful to have a forgiving husband and family who stood by me until I could admit to myself that I had a problem and begin the steps of recovery.  I laid awake in bed last night reliving the past few months when I would have been totally useless in the event of a major catastrophic occurrence.    I could not have aided myself much less anyone else in a crisis!  
     My dad is in home hospice which means that his days are numbered according to a fleet of doctors who say there is no medical recovery for his condition.  I think back on the days and nights when my dying father had to watch me stumble around this house while 'trying' to pretend to be a useful member of the household.  Now that I'm sober, I can see the sadness and disappointment in my father's eyes in my mind and those memories help keep me rooted in my sobriety.  I pray I never again have to see that look on his face because of me allowing alcohol to control my life!!
    My understanding and loving husband has been my rock throughout this whole ordeal of my alcoholism.   He had a lot riding on his shoulders having to be responsible for two handicapped in laws, a son, a full time job, pets, the finances,  AND a drunk wife!!  I have to painfully admit that if the shoe had been reversed, I don't believe I would have stayed the way he has!  However, I am very blessed with a forgiving husband who offers 100% support toward my recovery.
     Reading back over this post I realize that I seemed to have rambled away from the topic of storms, but actually I have delicately described the 'storms' that I have subjected my family to for months.  I have to take responsibility for my own actions and attempt to make amends where possible.  (That is a principal I am learning from attending and studying AA.)   In doing so, I have to acknowledge that I have caused a tornado of emotions of hurt, anger, fear, frustration, confusion, and even hatred by allowing the disease of alcoholism to control me, my emotions, and especially my actions.
     I know that attending AA meetings, reading all the books, changing my lifestyle, and making amends to family members WILL NOT stop the storms of life from occurring,  but now when the winds start to blow, the air pressure changes, and the clouds appear, my family will not have to wonder IF I will be able to stand firm with them when the actual storm hits.  They will KNOW that I will be there!