Coming Out of the Dark….Again!

And, the journey begins AGAIN! I took quite a hiatus from posting an entry here. And as you can probably tell from the title, it hasn’t been a great time.

While I DID NOT go back to chugging vodka straight from the bottle, I DID decide to drink “just beer”. When I started drinking “just beer”, of course I chose the cheapest and highest alcohol content beer I could find. Natural Ice was fully leaded, as I like to call it. At first, three beers would give me a decent buzzed feeling. Five beers would have me very buzzed. But, of course, within a few weeks my tolerance built up and I had to drink “MORE”.

I relapsed before the pandemic hit, however, when the pandemic hit, my drinking became MUCH worse. My hubby was an over-the-road trucker, so I was home alone…well, I did have my two dogs to keep me company, and we live in a country town of 686 people. So, you can imagine how isolated I was! I drank my beer from the time I woke up until I fell asleep at night.

Of course, I stopped taking ALL of my psych meds while drinking, so I was a hot mess times infinity. Both of my demons, mental and alcoholic, were working overtime! I was in such a tailspin, not even the most gifted of pilots could have recovered and straightened out my plane!

I will go into more detail in future posts. For now, I just want to say….. I MADE IT BACK!

By the grace of God and the amazing support and encouragement of my hubby and his family (my family didn’t know I was drinking again) I made it back! It was a long, treacherous, scary road, but God saw me through it, even if I didn’t really ask Him to!

For now, I choose to simply do the next right thing!!

What a life!

See ya’ soon,

ME

6 Months Sober and “the thing”…

WHAAAAT? Today actually snuck up on me. I happened to look at the date and then counted backwards to November and realized I am 6 months sober today.

As a “chronic relapser” (I despise that term, by the way, but the truth hurts sometimes and acceptance is the answer!), I tend to let milestones go by the wayside. Not sure why….yes I am…guilt, shame, embarrassment, just to name a few. I catch myself buying into negative self-talk, such as:

  • It SHOULD be 4 ½ years sober, if you wouldn’t have screwed up.
  • For that matter, you would have almost 6 years sober if you hadn’t been stupid in January of 2011.
  • Look at all the devastation and destruction you caused by not staying sober after going to treatment in 1996.

But NOT TODAY! Today, I am simply grateful. My old sponsor often said, “I’ve never known anyone to go back out when they had an attitude of gratitude.”

I am grateful that I am God’s perfectly IMPERFECT child. He made me exactly the way He wanted me, blemishes and all. I know this to be true because “Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Man, oh, man, do I have to chew on that statement lots of times to get it down without choking!

I am grateful for simply being alive. That last relapse really did a tap dance (more of an Irish Jig) on me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I hope to NEVER forget the first days and weeks after putting the plug in the jug. It reminds me of what a blessing life is and how quickly I can screw it up if I unplug the jug again.

Before I woke hubby up this morning, I took Joe outside. It was 4 a.m., but the birds were chirping softly and I could hear the baby leaves on trees rustling in a light, chilly Minnesota morning breeze. I said my prayers as Joe was doing his “business”. I suck at meditation. It’s this rambling mind of mine….but this morning I felt a sense of calm. The chirping birdies and rustling leaves seemed to be playing a peaceful song to me. What a gift for the brain that is usually so jumbled with shooting thoughts it struggles to get through a silent prayer! I was able to pray, meditate and just BE. It was amazing! I didn’t want to come back inside, but alas…I had to say good-bye to whatever this new found state of being is and resume life.

After getting hubby on the road, I was going to go back to sleep. “Hmmm…maybe I should take Joe back outside and see if that thing happens again.” Thinking it was probably just a fluke and certainly wouldn’t happen again, especially not with 2 cups of coffee in my system, I summoned the big, black “Fuzzy Butt” and we went out the back door. The THING happened again! Calm, peaceful, able to focus on thoughts…”Whoa! This is awesome!”, I thought. I vaguely remember feeling the thing in the past. It’s been so long since I felt it that this morning it felt brand new again. Joe even came over to me and gave me a “something is different” look. Now, if “Fuzzy Butt” notices and approves, it’s gotta’ be special.

Gratitude…I found the thing again. Dare I call it by name? Shhhh…..I will whisper it so as to not chase it away…serenity. It’s here…it’s in me…it’s awesome. Welcome back.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

The Dark Side, Part 2

Okay, so my last post was about my relapse and the “cookies” over on the Dark Side. I got pretty emotional while trying to explain what happened when I put the plug in the jug AGAIN.

What happened was….TERROR. Paralyzing fear. A relentless feeling of hopelessness. In all of my years of drinking and swearing off drinking, binging and quitting, I have never experienced such a deep sense of absolute DOOM. I laid on my couch for 3 straight days, unable to form complete sentences, unable to think rational thoughts. I couldn’t even say the Serenity prayer. I honestly believe I was on the verge of having a wet brain. Physically I was so weak that my husband had to help me stand so I could use the bathroom. On the 4th day, I was able to eat 3 or 4 bites of toast with a bit of butter soaked in milk. That 4th day is when the reality of my situation started to hit me.

Could I recover from this? Was I going to die? If I didn’t die, did I do irreversible brain damage? Did I want to live? Did I want to recover? Incomplete thoughts would shoot through me at the speed of light. I couldn’t slow them down. I couldn’t rest. Sleep was impossible. I remember saying “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” That was the longest string of words I could manage.

Then the mental illness demons decided to tap dance on my already mushy mind. Anxiety sucker punched me. PTSD gifted me with flashbacks from numerous past events, so real even the smell and taste senses were present. Bipolar must have thought it was time to play King of the Mountain, because it came in and knocked everyone else down the hill. I was Sybil in rare form!

I am so thankful that I had a strong support system in AA that helped me find my way back. I had to have my butt in a chair daily for quite some time. Even 6 months later I am battling the mental health demons, though not nearly as bad as in November. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned or needed a refresher course on:

  • The Dark Side sucks ass!
  • They LIED about the cookies!
  •  An ex-booze hound should NOT drink booze.
  • Booze and psych meds DO NOT MIX!!
  • Mental illness and addiction is a wicked combination.WHAT A LIFE!
  • ~Me
  • And finally…Staying sober is WAY, WAY easier than GETTING sober!!! I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to get and stay sober AGAIN.

Meh…..just Meh.

That about sums up the week. I’ve just been “meh”. The demons have been damn busy this week. And I can tell y’all why. Because I wasn’t doing nary a thing to keep them shackled, that’s why! I was in that horrible place, you know the one…sitting in my shit, and it stunk and wasn’t comfortable but because it was “MY” shit, it was at least familiar. Everything else had become so unfamiliar and scary, I simply chose to keep sitting in my stinky and uncomfortable shit. True insanity that makes so much sense. Wait….What?!

This insane, sensible inactive activity went on for about 3 days before it became unbearable enough for me to do something about it. Booze demon screaming “drink the vodka, you’ll sleep better!”, Bipolar demon shouting “quit taking the meds, you’ll sleep better”, and the anxiety demon screeches “don’t leave the house because bad things will happen if you do.”

I showered the stinky poop of myself and went to a meeting on Friday. And while I can not honestly proclaim that my world instantly become all rainbows and unicorns, I can say I instantly started to feel better. Why does it have to get so bad before I take action? Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes I stay on top of things and it goes good for a long period of time. But I know what to do when it starts getting bad, and yet, I do the opposite. And that just blows my mind.

Meeting makers make it. I know this to be true. With how volatile my mental health and sleep patterns are right now, I need lotsa’ meetings. DUH! So grateful for this recovery life, where I can be “meh…just meh” or can choose to break that old behavior and actually have a great days.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

 

 

Nerf’s Up, I’m Outa’ Here!

A few years ago and before we were married, hubby and I were faced with an impending Midwest winter blizzard. Weather dudes were saying at least 3 days of ice, snow and high winds that would make travel impossible. I was terrified. Here’s this guy that I really liked (truth be told, I was already totally in love with him) and we were going to be stuck in a tiny, one bedroom apartment for at least 3 days, probably 5 before the city dug us out. We took every precaution….bought batteries for the flashlights, food that didn’t require electricity to prepare, candles, and an abundance of toilet paper. (hey, priorities!) Then came the idea. Nerf guns with lots of ammo. Being holed up in that rinky-dink apartment for an unknown amount of time, we knew there were going to be tense moments. We had to have something to relieve the stress. I don’t think we have made a more sensible dual purchase since then.

Hubby and I rarely have arguments. Seriously, it’s like almost never. When we do, out come the Nerf guns. He usually takes position in the kitchen and I opt for the living room. We show no mercy. Out of ammo? Plan on getting blasted while you run to the “no cover zone” to pick some up and reload. By the time we are done, whatever was on the table worthy of arguing about is now easily discussed. Stress is turned into laughter and light-hearted fun.

Because our move happened so unexpectedly and fast, we didn’t know exactly where our beloved Nerf guns were stashed. This holiday weekend, my 8 year old step-daughter found them. “Can we?”, she pleaded with Dad. I got a call while grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. “Buy some Nerf ammo.” Oh boy, I knew this was going to be fun. We laughed, giggled and hubby got ambushed in the kitchen. I got shot in the butt and in the boob. I may have a bruise, but it was so worth it.

In AA, we learn to trudge the road OF happy destiny. Many quote this wrong and say, “TO happy destiny.” There is a big difference when you switch OF and TO. Happiness is not a destination, it is a mode of travel. Even through this hormonal depression (which is lifting more each day, Thank God) I can be a part of something more special than an ex booze hound like me deserves. God’s grace and mercy are amazing.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

You Never, Never Know….

Yesterday reminded me that I never, never know what to expect out of a day. To simply do the next right thing and wonderful things happen.

I woke up grumpy. Only got a few hours of sleep, my back was pretty sore, the depression is at it’s finest in the monring and I didn’t want to go to a meeting. grrrrr. I put my big girl panties on and begrudgingly sloughed off to the morning meeting. It was amazing. Most of the “weekenders” were there because of the holiday, so the sharing was great. I was honest and said I was having thoughts about drinking. I get so down on myself (and get scared) when I have those thoughts. Still haven’t accepted that it’s okay to have thoughts, what counts is my actions.

Anyway, a friend invited me to a local recovery/treatment campus to have lunch. It’s the first time I have been out there for lunch. This place oozes with serenity. I’ve been there for events before and I can feel the serenity as I walk onto the campus. Great food, company and conversation. And any thoughts of drinking were definitely squished.

Last evening I received a text from a gal that was my sponsor for a short time but then had to focus on some personal things. She said she could sponsor me again. So I am no longer sponsorless! This is a huge relief. At the meeting yesterday, I shared that I am at a standstill in my program. There is no growth and I am not working the steps because I do not have a sponsor. And then…viola!

Needless to say, the “grumpasaurous” that awoke yesterday morning transformed into a very grateful child of God before bed. Certainly not what I expected out of the day.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

 

Happy Wife, Happy Life.

sam

My hubby has been amazing through this whole rollercoaster of emotion and depression. He has been a pillar of strength for me.

“Practice these principles in all our affairs” is something I most definitely have NOT been doing, and hubby gets the brunt of it. I am ashamed to say, I have been treating him like shit. I have been taught that if you want to see how strong someone’s program is, ask their family. I would fall short if you did that.

Hubby is 13 years sober. He stays out of my program, for the most part. He will gently nudge me and suggest that I “phone a friend”, or go to a meeting, but he does this in such a loving, caring way that I can’t be mad about it. And when he does it, I know he is right. I may bitch about it, but I do it because if he is saying it, I am pretty bad off.

He loves, supports and encourages me in every aspect of my life. With the weight gain, he tells me I am beautiful more often. With the depression, he tells me how much he loves me and cherishes me on a daily basis. With the anxiety, he talks me down and reminds me to breathe slow and deep. And I have just been snapping at him. A few days ago, I yelled because he didn’t put a roll of toilet paper on the TP holder. I’m such a bitch. Hubby knows how insecure I am right now so every time I call him, he answers the phone, “Hello, gorgeous.”.

This man has been with me for 4 years. He has seen me at my best and at my worst. He has witnessed full Bipolar manic episodes that lasted 2 weeks and the crash into sever depression that follow. He has seen how PTSD flashbacks can ambush me and how my severe anxiety can ruin an evening out. Yet, he’s still here. Still by my side. Hell, he even wanted to marry me after seeing all that crap! Maybe I should be questioning his sanity!

I have hubby on my gratitude list, but I have realized through last night’s Step 10, instead of being grateful for him, I am taking him for granted. I need to make amends for the way I have been treating him. Yes, I am depressed and a bit whack-a-doo with the hormone thingy. But that does not give the right to treat my husband, or anyone for that matter, the way I have been. No one is my personal punching bag. Just because he is allowing it to happen doesn’t make it right.

My hubby deserves a happy wife and a happy life. Slowly but surely I am coming back from the depths of this depression. I can feel the hormone replacement therapy working. Which is great, because I know hubby has been jonesing for a Nurf gun fight and I haven’t been in the mood. He may just get ambushed.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

But Weight, There’s More…

scale

I had to go to my primary care doc because I pulled a muscle in my back and touched off a bad spasm. None too happy about being in the doc’s office to begin with and then I have to stand on the scale. grrrrr. I weighed in at a whopping 202 pounds. WHAT? I had to look back and make sure the nurse didn’t have her foot on the scale as a joke. Nope. It was ALL me! WHAT?

I haven’t weighed that much since before my liver failure in 2008. I stand 5 feet, no inches tall (or short) so you can imagine what 202 pounds looks like on that frame. Dumpy. Frumpy. Fatty. Ugh. I have gained 35 pounds in 3 months. Is there a medal for that or something?

I know that I have been depressed. I know that I have used food for comfort. But 35 pounds?! That’s just ludicrous. The demons came on fast and strong. I almost completely forgot about the pain in my back. My skull started vibrating, the voices were so loud.

  • “You’re huge.”
  • “You’re worthless.”
  • “Just eat and the puke.”
  • “Hubby doesn’t love you anymore. How could he possibly find you’re fat ass attractive?”
  • “Start drinking again. You never eat when you’re drinking.”
  • “Stop taking you’re meds. They make you gain weight.”

The scary thing was, I was listening to the voices and they were sounding like the voice of reason. Damn those demons. Once doc came into the room and checked me over for the back spasm, I brought up the weight gain. He was shocked. Told me that he found it very hard to believe that I weighed 202 lbs. That made me feel better. We discussed strategy on weight loss, but he made me promise not to try anything until after September 10th when I am cleared from the hysterectomy and now my back. I have to have physical therapy 3 times a week. grrrrr.

The demon voices were still making my skull vibrate. I felt like a total failure. How could I have allowed myself to get to that weight? I felt lazy. I felt ashamed. I guilty. I knew that I had been using food for comfort but I had no idea it had gotten to this point. My mind was racing. 100 thoughts going through and I couldn’t grab onto 1 and focus. Diet…which one…swim…how long…can’t swim yet…not cleared for exercise…binge and purge…bad for me…no carbs…unrealistic. STOP!! “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.”

It wasn’t instant, but it was quick. I began to calm down. I said my version of the AA ABC’s. I can’t, He can, I’m gonna’ let Him. I felt better. I am powerless. Not just over booze. I’m putting food on the ever growing list. My life is unmanageable. God can restore me to sanity. (so I’ve been told) Nah, I know this to be true. I just have to get out of the way. Quit obsessing over something I have no control over at this very moment. In a few weeks, I can do something about it, but not right now. So I can choose to stew and sit in my poop or I can surrender and give it to God to handle. I choose the latter. At least for now. I may forget and start stewing again. But that’s the grace and mercy of this program. If I take the crap back, God is always willing when I am ready to give it back to Him.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

Well, Dog-gone It!

Joe

This is my fur-kid, Joe. He is 3 quarters Black Lab and 1 quarter German Shepherd and just turned 2 years old 2 weeks ago. If you know anything about dogs then you’ll know he is still quite exuberant and full of “puppy”.

Yesterday, Joe gave me quite a fright. I had him outside on his lead. He finished doing his business and I let him lounge in the grass for awhile while I perused Facebook. When it was time to go inside, I unhooked the lead and walked Joe by his collar toward the house. He had other plans. He did some sort of doggie ninja move, twisted then pulled and the next thing I knew he was on the other side of the yard.  My heart was in my throat. Joe is a runner.

We just recently moved from a city into a small town. Joe doesn’t know the layout very well yet and we live fairly close to a county road. As soon as he realized he was “free” he bolted across the street and out of my sight. My anxiety level went through the roof. I got Joe’s leash and opened the garage. Sat in a chair in the driveway, calling for him and whistling. Nothing. I could feel my body reacting to the anxiety then. “Deep breaths, deep breaths.”, I told myself. I was shaking. I laid eyes on him a couple of times but he was always far off. I went back in the house but left the garage door and house door open so he could get in. By this time every muscle in my body was tight and my breathing way out of whack.

Joe is my companion. My confidant. My buddy. He keeps me company while hubby is on the road all week. The thought of losing him is unbearable. He is a very intelligent pup. And funny, too. I am convinced that he understands the English language and therefore I talk to him ALL THE TIME. He snuggles up to me at night, or when I am having a “mental health” day. He makes sure I get my exercise by INSISTING on going for walks. My mind was racing with thoughts of what would happen if he didn’t come home.

I took an anti-anxiety pill. A non-benzodiazepine. I wished I hadn’t canceled my benzo prescription. Went back outside and called for Joe. Still nothing. Came inside and went to the living room and got on my knees to pray. I could hardly get the words out. Finally settled on “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I couldn’t focus long enough for anything else. My mind was too jumbled. I felt like my heart was going to explode. Tears burned my eyes as they welled up before falling.

Tick, tick, tick, tick. I heard the sweet sound of his nails on the linoleum in the kitchen. HE CAME HOME! I got up from my kneeling spot and went to the kitchen. Joe was panting so hard, his tongue almost touched the floor. I knelt down and hugged him hard. He just looked at me like, “Why you cryin’, Mama?”. I shut the front door, got fresh water for him and scolded him while he lapped up the water. Then, the demons kicked in.

The crises was over but the way my lying mind works, the “what ifs” start slamming me. What if Joe didn’t come home? What if Joe had gotten hit by a car? What if Joe had bitten somebody? (he would never do that. lick someone to death, maybe.) I began to feel overwhelmed. Manic. Panic. I couldn’t bring myself back to reality. While a part of me knew these were irrational fears, I was still allowing them to fester. The booze demon decided to come out an play. “Hey, you wanna’ shut those others up? I’ll take care of that. You KNOW I always do. A few swigs and they go silent.” “GO AWAY!”, I shouted out loud. He kept on going, of course. I was in a pickle. I was a hot mess. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong that was causing this melt down. DUH! I was dialoging with the disease. HELLO! When I dialog with the disease, it always wins. Back down on my knees I went. “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I said a few other things, too, like “Your will not mine”, and “I surrender.”

I started feeling better. Stronger. I was “Higher Powered”. I should know better than to face off with the booze demon one on one. He’ll kick my butt every time. I can’t talk to him. I talk to God and let God fight that battle for me. As for the mental illness demons, I’m still a bit manic today after Joe’s disappearing act yesterday. I still have anxiety. Still have the “What ifs” lurking in my head. But he’s home. He snuggled up with me last night to sleep and we went for a walk this morning. I pray that the vibrations in my mind will smooth out soon.

I am so grateful that I have been given the tools to get through situations like this. I am working on picking up those tools earlier in a situation and not waiting until it’s a full blown crises. Progress not perfection.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

Taking Out the Garbage

I have a very heightened sense of smell. I’ve been told that I could smell a flea fart 100 miles upwind. (that was not a compliment) Point being, the garbage MUST be taken out at the end of the day or I am a big “grumpasaurous” in the morning when I walk down the hall and smell the stinky garbage. Sometimes it’s hardly half full but I don’t care. It MUST be taken out or I am grumpy. Who wants to smell stinky garbage first thing in the morning?

I say this because I can relate it to doing my 10th step every night. If I don’t “take out the garbage” from the day, it sits with me overnight and I wake up grumpy because yesterday’s garbage is weighing on me and it stinks! By taking just a few minutes before going to bed and doing an inventory of my day, I get a clean house and go to sleep with a light heart. For me it’s a MUST. When I forget, I don’t sleep well. When I don’t sleep well, one or more of my mental illness demons tries to rear it’s ugly head. But why wouldn’t I want to? I know that when I do a 10th step, I feel so much better and when I don’t, I feel like poop. I must admit, there are times when I am the rebellious teen who stomps the foot, folds the arms, and says, “I don’t wanna’, you can’t make me!”. It makes no sense, but it happens. I get the same result every single time I do it. Crappy nights sleep and an emotional hangover in the morning.

So, tonight I will take the garbage out, both physically and spiritually. I am so grateful to the program that has taught me how to do this.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me