Friday, October 30, 2009

Drunk After Eleven Years and Then Again

When I had eleven or twelve years sobriety we moved 25 miles out of town.  It was hard to get to a meeting.  I got home from work, fixed dinner and didn't feel like driving all the way back to town. People stopped calling me and I didn't call them.  One night we went to a nearby restaurant and they had karaoke.  I had never seen karaoke in my life!  I was fascinated with it and started following karaoke all around.  Unfortunately karaoke is in the bars.  Before I knew what happened I became, not only a karaoke star, but a drunk once again. 

After breaking up with my partner, filing bankruptcy and the like, I returned to my meetings.  I found a sponsor and she taught me "Service is the Secret".  I jumped in with both feet and walked the walk.  My partner came back home and all was well.  After nearly ten years (once again) of sobriety I learned I had major health issues. I had to quit smoking (my identity).  I could see my Mom wasn't well and I needed to help her more and more (resentment).  I became disabled and could no longer work (identity and resentment). I did all this while going through menopause.  Whew... Too tired for meetings, feeling worthless, and no contact with a sponsor.  (Looking back I am not sure I had a sponsor at that point!) I drank again.

After giving up sobriety once the second time is much easier.  I don't even know for sure when I picked up.  I believe it was when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Mom died one week after the diagnosis.  During the death vigil I had to mingle with and put up with family.  The funeral was a couple blocks from my home so everyone was in and out of my house.  All these resentments, I had never worked through, were sitting at my kitchen table.  I shattered into a million pieces.

After sitting alone and drinking myself to near death for months.  My doctor told me I needed to go back, once again, to my meetings.  I felt so bad, so humiliated.  Everyone knew me and everyone knew I drank once again.  The sobriety countdowns were torture.  One woman told me I owed every woman in the program an amends because they all looked up to me.  I failed them!  I was a failure!  Those things could have helped me stay out until death.  However, I chose to go to meetings in another area.  I even started a meeting in my small hometown.  

I wasn't long into this second term of sobriety and I found out I was moving, 750 miles away!  When I moved here I thought, hell no one knows me I can drink again! Then it occurred to me, people knowing me doesn't affect my level of drinking, I am a drunk! I found a meeting here I love with good sobriety. I had a man from that meeting come to my home to look at some work I needed done.  He stayed and we talked program forever. He said, "Miss Linn, AA has come to your house. You need a bigger coffee pot!" (I had a one cup pot) You know what, I have never allowed AA in my house and didn't even realize it! I stayed isolated and kept getting drunk. My disease loves it when I am alone so it can kill me.  The very next day I passed out my phone number and invited people over.  I have had more people in and out of my home here then I did in all the years I lived in Michigan!  Oh yes! I have bought bigger coffee pot!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The" Gratitude Journal

Many of my sponsor's over the years have suggested I write a gratitude journal.  I always showed great "verbal motivation" but never actually started a journal.  I said I did and in my mind I thought of stuff but I have never felt grateful.  I could say "my sobriety" but I didn't really feel grateful for it.  Many people had a heck of a lot more sobriety then me.

Then my one sponsor brought a journal and pen to me.  She challenged me to list just 3 things a night, no more no less.  So the first page in that journal looks like this:

I am grateful for:
1. This journal
2. This pen
3. I thought of those two things!

That was the start of a life changing journey.  I can list things forever now.  Gratitude can be learned and for that I am truly grateful!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Breaking for Rainbows

I started a blog a while back.  My vision was to do something with my idle time so I wouldn't worry about my son so much. (My son, James, is in Iraq.)  The thoughts around, the planning and the writing of the blog occupied much of my time. The benefit to me was time passed and fears diminished.  The awesome gift I got from the blog was hope and peace of mind.

When I started blogging I wanted to write about my fears and my relationships with family and friends.  Like many in my age group I came from a fairly normal dysfunctional home.  It would have been very easy for me to name the sins of all my family members but for what purpose?  Some would say "to heal" and to them I say "bah".  These people have partners, spouses, children, grandchildren and other family and friends.  Do I need to destroy them to heal myself?  I don't think so.

What I decided to do was write things that are positive about these people.  My mom always said, "If you cannot say something nice, don't say anything at all."  As much hurt as some of my family caused me they also blessed me with wonderful gifts.  So many gifts that to name them would take me hours!  Music, theater, love, discipline, laughter, the list is endless.

Today I have an appreciation for everyone who has walked my journey with me.  When I cannot find anything good to say about an individual I remember the lesson from our relationship was life changing.  I am very grateful for all the days of my life and even during the worst of storms, I still break for rainbows.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Father, brothers and a missing son

I have spent many hours in prayerful meditation regarding this blog.  In my opinion, I have lived with alcoholics all my life, even when I am home alone.  One of the things I have learned is to be mindful of others.  I have a ton of bad history with my father, both of my brothers and my son, Adam.  Besides me, these men are the alcoholic/drug addicts in my life that at times still haunt the corners of my mind. (Picture is my father)

As I look at things that happened between these men and me I must try to find my part in it.  As a small child I had no part in that insanity but as an adult I do have a part.  What I mean is, some of the stuff that happened to me as a child I continued to carry around as an adult for many years.  I reacted to my adult environment through the eyes of a scared little girl.  That is the area for which I am responsible, how I live my life today and to not allow these men to continue to abuse me.

In finding my part in everything, I must also make amends for my actions.  And herein lays my dilemma.  In making amends I need to remember the second part, "except when to do so would injure them or others."  For me to publicly name the actions of these men I risk hurting their children, grandchildren and other family members. I would never intentionally hurt anyone.

I no longer hold any anger or resentment towards these men, I have forgiven them.  That was hard to do and for many years I told people "forgiveness is God's business not mine".  I have learned for me, forgiveness has three parts.  First, I had to admit I need to forgive.  Second, I had to actually forgive.  Third, I had to accept that these men were/are suffering from their own disease and demons.   

I was able to tell my one brother on the phone I have no resentment towards him.  The other brother is very difficult to talk with as he is still living in the past.  My father is dead.  My son Adam is, I don't know where.  The last I knew he was homeless in Detroit once again.  I have forgiven them all and I will never have a relationship with any of them.  I always thought forgiveness meant approval of the actions, it does not.  Forgiveness has cleansed my heart and for that I am very grateful.  Forgiveness also means I no longer have to carry "it" around and I no longer need to be a victim.  Do I need to "get even" with the abuser and name names and call out sins?  Not today I don't and my heart is over-flowing with love.