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

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

Silent but Deadly

No, I am not talking about farts, although my dog Joe most definitely lets some righteous SBD’s go that almost require gas masks. He is so stinky that he “shares his air” and then gets up from wherever he is lounging and goes to a clean air zone. But I digress.

The silent but deadly that I am referring to is choosing to be silent about negative feelings and emotions and the deadly consequences that can have.

I can’t stand negativity. I try putting a positive or humorous spin on things whenever I can. The downside to this is sometimes I do not allow myself to be “me” and walk through specific emotions or feelings. I can CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) situations to death. Glass half full. Joke away depression. But on the inside I still feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing.

This hormonal imbalance and the depression that has come with it sucks ass! I am starting to feel like Sybil, with multiple personalities. I’m on an emotional high, everything is peachy and then BAM, sobbing because all my lady parts are gone and I can’t have anymore babies. (I had my tubes tied 10 years ago, so more babies went out the window long before the hysterectomy!) A few days ago, I lost it and cried because I ran out of milk. Can you say “basket case”? 

I know I need to process through the emotions or they will manifest in some other way, like anger. My poor hubby is nearing Sainthood with what he is putting up with. Hats off to him. This up and down exercise is screwing with my recovery program as well.

My morning prayer and meditation have been reduced to, “God please help me. Thanks. Amen.” And then reading the Daily Reflections. I have to read it 3 or 4 times to comprehend because my mind is racing with nonsense. I am very grateful for many of the AA one-liners:

  • Back to basics
  • Keep it simple
  • One day at a time
  • Progress not perfection

These have been a staple in my haphazard brain lately. I can tell that the hormone replacement therapy is helping because the depression is lifting slowly. It’s not all day, every day and certainly not as dark and scary as it was 2 weeks ago. My Bipolar is trying to have some fun with me now. I know that’s just a wave I have to ride and when the manic hits, journal and treat myself with kid gloves because that’s when I am susceptible to counterproductive behavior.

For those of you old enough to remember, Gloria Estefan had a hit song years ago titled, “Coming Out of the Dark”. That’s what keeps playing in my head. I am coming out of a very dark place. By the grace of God, I have a wonderful support system that has held me up during this ICKY ordeal.

As long as I don’t stay silent, my thoughts and actions won’t get deadly. Dual diagnoses is no laughing matter. I am blessed that I can laugh at myself but when I fake it I am just being a fool. When I choose to ignore or run away from feelings and emotions instead of facing them the disease starts winning. Cunning, baffling and powerful. Walking through the stuff means I am not stuffing it down to have it ambush me later. A very dear friend always tells me, “You don’t have to get through it gracefully, you just gotta’ get through it. And I AM.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go…

This Dr. Seuss book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have given it as a graduation gift to kindergarten, 8th grade, high school, college and even law school. But none have been as profound as when I have given this book to someone who is starting their journey in recovery.

“You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” Change your playground. How many times do we hear that?

“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” One day at a time. That’s all we can handle.

“I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against YOU.” When we allow ourselves to spend time in our own head, the disease of addiction WILL play horrible, scary games with us.

“On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far, and face up to your problems, whatever they are.” No matter how far we need to go to get our but in a chair at a meeting, we do it. Meeting makers make it! That’s a fact.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” By doing “the next right thing” on a “one day at a time” basis, you WILL succeed.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Mental Illness, addiction, whatever ailment it may be. This book is so simple, truthful and uplifting. I read it often. It helps keep me grounded. Try it, you might like it.

WHAT A LIFE.

~Me