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Layers

There are many layers with tattered edges.

Each ready to be lifted, folded and laid open.

But each is fragile and shy, not ready to be seen.

When lifted the dust is removed and the layer exposed, and then a breath of relief.

Clear eyes and air ruffles through as another tattered layer is peeled and butterflies fly.

An open heart lays exposed as the physical breaks away.

The being replaces ego, and love replaces fear.

What is to fear? We ask these layers of lives.

Haven’t you already lived, traveled, loved and lost?

What happened that was so tragic, because nothing lasts forever.

Not the lover you once loved, or that cabin in the woods where you once stayed.

Not that feeling you had as you breathed the fresh night air while childish laughter laughed with friends.

Nor the babies you held in your arms as you breathed their new scent.

Yet you, dear child, are constant. You are always there through lifetimes. So hold yourself with love and gentleness.

The path and layers of life are unfolding as they should.

And all you have to do is fall open.

Kayb52

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Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I’m starting to string days together again. The thrill of waking up every morning hangover free feels great each and every time. The satisfaction of knowing I beat the wine bitch feels powerful. But I’m not going to get seduced again into the pink cloud syndrome. As a chronic stringer of dayers, and a chronic relapser I’m trying be a realist and finally realize this is not an easy ride on a pink cloud. This is a rollercoaster with steep dives, twists and turns, and it can all end with a quick and jerky stop. Through all my reading and listening and lurking I’m really trying to use the tools I learned about, which I thought I was using, which I wasn’t, because maybe I was afraid of trying too hard.

I’ve been having these thoughts lately about why I go back to drinking after knowing all the things I know and after all the crappy feelings I feel. I think it’s because I’m afraid that if you take the alcohol away I won’t have any excuses. I’ll be left with a bare me, a naked me, a totally flawed human being me. She may really be empty. She may really look old. She may really not be that great at her job. She may just be a negative person. She may not be that great of a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister. She may not have any depth, or value to add to the world.

You see, drinking is a great excuse for me: Well, I did a shit job on that presentation because I had drinks the night before. Well, I sat on the couch and didn’t interact with my family because I’m fucking hungover, and I cooked dinner and cleaned for everyone. Isn’t that enough? My God, I look like shit this morning. I shouldn’t have drank that wine last night. I can hide behind alcohol because I know it’s my scapegoat, it’s my excuse for not being enough or brave enough to lead the life I want to lead. It is my shield against myself and the world.

I so want to be brave enough to get to know me to really be me. To learn that it’s okay to be flawed. To learn it’s okay to just be doing your best, and when you aren’t at your best to let it rest. Because that’s what it is to let yourself be human.

I had a great day yesterday as I relished the days I’ve strung together, and feeling all clearheaded, fresh and healthy. I cooked, read, talked to friends. I finally finished the damn puzzle a neighbor left in my mailbox. Then I realized I never did the online yoga I had planned. I didn’t go outside, get any air because of the constant drizzle of rain. It may not sound brave, but I said screw it. I threw on an old pair of tennis shoes and a rain jacket and went for a run. at first it was hard and cold with the rain drops and wind. But then it turned exhilarating, raw and authentic. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that cleansing run in the rain. I returned home with my hair soaking wet, my shoes drenched. And I felt brave and determined. I won this day, and it stretched and strengthened a sober muscle.

Happy Sober Sunday!

And Here We Go Again

Well, I’m back on the sober train again after quite a ride. The virus (once again I will not use the C words, I’m sick of them) has taken away a regular schedule, responsibilities. Then of course we hear about all of our friends upping their drinking. The Happy Hours via Facetime and Zoom, liquor sales are up 55%, so my husband and I decided to join in on all the fun, until the fun was pretty much a shit show as we drank away the late afternoon and evenings. The mornings certainly were not much fun. The stress of the world was certainly not much fun, and me hating myself certainly was not much fun. So I’m on day 3. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I’m proud of myself this morning. And I feel REALLY good.

As I’m writing this and it is mid April, I’m watching snow falling in the early morning. It’s blanketing the ground gently, but I don’t think it’s going to stick. But even though I’m ready for spring this is another reminder to remain patient, that all good things come in time, and that we have to enjoy what is in the moment. What a lesson to learn, and it has taken me over 50 years to understand that, and it is still a work in progress.

I was thinking last night as I soberly tossed and turned that I’ve been drinking off and on since I was 16. I’ve read more than once that when we start drinking that is when we stop growing. That scares me, but I know deep down it is true. My dreams started being stunted at that age, my values changed at that age, and I’ve spent a long time not liking myself since that age. What a web to unravel, and then I get viciously anxious just even thinking about all the work that I need to do to be healthy and full. But then I try to remember that just like winter becoming spring I have to be patient and except the things I cannot change or rush or hurry. I have to do the work to find the person I am, supposed to be. So if I can just not drink today I will have moved a little closer. So I’m really going to try and not let my alter ego, that stranger who moves into my body, to not take over. I want this clear, open and honest woman I am right now to stay with me. Here’s what I hate about that stranger. I don’t have a name for her yet, just Stranger for now. Maybe it will come to me eventually.

She’s not healthy.

She’s a bad mother.

She’s a bragger.

She’s selfish.

She’s argumentative.

She’s sloppy.

She’s grandiose.

She’s immature.

She can be hurtful.

She’s impulsive.

She’s self harming.

She’s dangerous.

She not enlightened, AT ALL.

She makes bad choices.

Maybe I’ll start my own little therapy with this list, and each day make it a topic to explore further. To unravel that stranger and strip her of her power and presence. Something to think about for today.

Happy Sober Wednesday Friends!

KB

She Recovers Chicago Connection and Shamebooth

I was pretty proud of myself last night. I went to my first recovery event. It was in the evening, and all day I was working on talking myself out of going. What if I got in a car accident on the way home? I won’t know anybody there, and I’ll feel alone and awkward. I’m not always successful at staying sober for long periods of time, so do I really belong? Why don’t I just stay home and get a bottle of wine and sit on the deck. Nobody’s going to be home tonight…….. But then I thought about how I would feel about myself if I didn’t go, and God forbid I replaced a recovery event with a drinking event. Plus I’ve been doing courageous things lately, so I forced myself to get dressed, put on make up, and get my ass out the door.

The event was lovely, motivational and inspiring, and although I felt out of place being “single” in a group that many people appeared to know each other, I had some good conversations. Particularly with Paula Williams, the owner of Shamebooth. I don’t know why, but after she spoke at the beginning of the event she walked straight up to me. She had cards placed on the tables to promote conversations. She picked one up and asked me a question, and then I picked one up and asked her a question. So we talked. And she shared, and I was scared. But then I came out of my shell and shared a bit of my shame. She it all out, and I took it all in. So I let some of me out. And it felt good, and uplifting and encouraging. So thank you Paula, thank you for seeing me when often times I don’t felt seen. Thank you for giving yourself, and for letting me give a bit of myself. And thank you for baring it all! I think I learned some valuable lessons last night. And I think I learned a bit more about myself.

Namaste

Eating = Not Drinking

What the hell is so hard about the late afternoon, the drive home from work, and taking that first step into the house? I know they call it the witching hour for sober folks, cocktail hour for drinking folks, but it’s my Screw You Leave Me Alone Hour. I have a friend that once told me she demands that everyone leaves her alone after she comes home from work. She’s a nurse, and has a glass of wine in her kitchen while she starts dinner before anyone can really talk to her. I totally relate, although I haven’t told anybody to leave me alone. In the past I’d just pour myself a glass of wine while listening to all the stories about my family’s day, and all the things I needed to do. Then I’d pour another glass of wine as I got overwhelmed, and then I’d pour another glass of wine while I became anxious, and then I’d pour another glass of wine and not eat the dinner I prepared. You get the picture.

Lately the Screw You Leave Me Alone Hour has been driving me a little nuts so I’ve been having to really plan my evenings. I couldn’t make it to yoga in time after work, so I called my husband and told him to put the meal we bought already prepared from the butcher shop in the oven, pronto! I don’t know what it is, but if I eat a decent meal all the desire to drink goes away. What a simple and rather pleasant solution. Eating = not drinking. At least that’s how it is for me anyway.

When I got home the dinner was not quite done, so I grabbed my son and got him a much needed hair cut. We all ate together, then I took my son out to practice for his driving test. My thoughts about drinking were in the background of my life once again, not sitting in front of me shouting in my face. I took a warm shower, put on some comfy clothes and watched a movie. I slept like a baby. I’ve woken up grateful this morning instead of hating myself this morning. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Those lousy 3 hours, 5PM – 8PM make all the difference. They are powerful hours, life changing hours. But when I just see them as 3 hours in a 24 hour day they become more manageable, and hell, that’s dinner time so I may as well eat dinner………..

Hot Yoga = Hot Tears

Yesterday my sobriety plan was hot yoga after work. By 4PM I was making excuses not to go. I’m tired. My son will be home alone (he’s 17!). I’ll have to change out of my work clothes at the studio. I forgot my sweat towel……. blah blah blah.

But I went. It felt relaxing once I settled in. I chatted with a few of the other women which I usually don’t do. The lights dimmed, and the heat felt so good. And the music began. What the hell? The music was all Disney themed! The yoga instructor warned us we’d be in for a surprise, but I certainly didn’t think this would be it.

We warmed up, and the memories inside me swelled. Songs from The Jungle Book played, and I remember so many moments with my oldest son. This was his favorite movie, and I had forgotten so many of these songs, and they brought up all the images of holding him next to me as we watched his favorite movie together and I watched him and couldn’t imagine my heart being more full of love. I remember him snuggling next to me, and then I remembered when my drinking would disappoint him. Sweet images and images of regret strewn together. It was messing with my brain as I went through my movements.

I was sweating now, and the dimness of the room, my sweat, and my memories were starting to sink deeper in. Songs from Mulan came on, which conjured up so many moment with my daughter. This was her favorite movie. We would watch it together, wrapped up in each others arms after a day at the beach. It always made me cry, and as I was in downward dog, child pose, dolphin, etc. I could feel the sweat mingling with my tears as the sweet images swirled with images of regret for drinking around my children.

I wouldn’t have traded all these emotions for anything, regardless of the pain in my heart, because there was more love than pain. I think I left a piece of me in that yoga room. I felt a shift, a realization, a sense of forgiveness for myself as my body, mind and spirit were taken to a different place. It began putting things in a better perspective for me. Those songs transported me to another time, but it was like I was watching a movie, a movie of one of the most difficult times of my life. Divorce, heart break, fear, drinking, love, all mixed in with a big heap of forgiveness for myself. As I was watching the movie I was weeping for the girl in the middle of it all, simply trying to do her best as she struggled to raise 3 small children alone. And I finally felt sorry for her, and began to understand that she sure could have used some compassion during those days………

Happy Sober Tuesday,

KB

Weekend Victory

This weekend was rather shaky as I rumbled along on the sobriety bandwagon. I’ve heard some great advice this past month or so, and it’s all sinking in as I continue to grow and learn. What I’m learning is that this sobriety path is not a path that is sure footed and easy to follow. At least not for everyone. There are forks in the road, there are logs to jump over, there’s bushes that need to be cut, and along the path all of a sudden there’s a beautiful vista, made for just your eyes and journey. And when that magical meadow, that gorgeous sunrise, or that sparkling lake reveals itself after all the hard work it’s hard not to take it in and just BE IN AWE.

That happened to me this weekend. I had that danger time again as I wobbled along the sobriety path. I woke up yesterday invigorated and rested, sober and happy. I went to yoga in the morning, and was feeling rather pleased with myself. I did some reading before the sun rose, and thanked God for another sober day.

But the day wore on. I needed to do the tedious task of grocery shopping to get ready for the week. I needed to put laundry away, I needed to do more laundry so I could put it away, I needed to cook a couple things so we could have a decent meal or two throughout the week. You get the idea. Chores that need to get done, but I don’t know. I kind of resent them on the weekend. I really should work more on getting my act together through the week and do a few of these things instead of saving them all up for a Sunday. But I digress.

So my husband leaves soon after I get home from yoga to go skeet shooting with his friend which will inevitably turn into drinks, so I have his buzzed return to look forward to. Later my son goes with his friends to see the school play, and I continue on with my chores. And then my addict voice erupts. “This would be so much more fun with a little wine. Just a little…… We can cook a beautiful meal for when the boys get home, we can sit on the deck in the cool air and enjoy a cigarette. Nothing crazy. Just a bit of time to relax on the weekend. Come on, you deserve it.” I sit and listen and become mesmerized by the voice and I can physically feel the switch in my body. I can feel it revving up. Yep, just a little wine. What harm can there be?”

But I broke the spell. I recognized the addict voice, that whispering little fucker in my ear. Like so many I’ve given him a name, stolen from a sobriety book I read. My addict’s voice is Voldemort. I stole this name because it reminds me of another villain in my life that was no good for me. The two share a lot in common which includes things such as self loathing, self destruction, lack of self love, and bad influences. I somehow separated myself from the addict voice, and I stopped my chores. I laid down on the couch with a cup of tea and watched a movie. Blue Jasmine. It calmed me down, and if you’ve seen the movie you see Cate Blanchett’s character spiraling down, down, down. Popping pills, drinking vodka, and unraveling. “My god” I thought. “She’s a complete mess.” I don’t want to be like Jasmine.

After watching the movie I grabbed the dog, went for a walk. I’ve learned that being outdoors is another sobriety tool. The sunshine, the cool air, are all therapeutic. When I returned from my walk all sunshiny and bouncy stepped I picked right back up on my chores. I finished the soup I was making, and was putting laundry away as my boys started arriving home. And it was a nice day all in all. I flexed my sobriety muscles, and they got a bit stronger……….

Happy Sober Monday,

KB

My son goes on a Kairos Retreat with his school later this month. It is a spiritual retreat, and the kids receive letters from people that most influenced them. This is a secret, and the kids are not supposed to know about it, so I’ve been secretly contacting people in his life that I think have most influenced him, cared for him, and have shown him love and have been asking them to write him a letter.

One such person was a teacher my son had in elementary school. This woman got it. She not only took care of her students’ education, but she looked out for them emotionally as well. She had a bunch of 5th graders meditating on a daily basis! And my son loved her and she loved him. So I asked her to write him a letter for him to read at the retreat.

I met her for lunch on Friday to pick up the sealed letter. I felt like one of her students, just loving to be around her vibrancy, warmth. We hugged, and when she hugs you she does it deeply, and she has this earthy, pungent delightful smell. I’ve always remembered that smell, and it is so her that it is something you will never forget.  

Usually when we’ve seen each other over the years it is at a school fundraiser, function, or with a group of people. This time it was just the two of us, and we talked and talked and talked. She’s a great storyteller, and she told me stories of the kids in her classroom, how my son and his buddies always stayed in her room and had lunch with her. She always let them, and she said that’s when she learned about who they really were. They opened up, and talked about things that sat at the top of their hearts and it would teach her how to help them, understand them, and to protect them.

We ended up moving the conversation to adult things. She led the ebb and flow, and I followed around, wanting to absorb all these moments with this woman. She told me about her life, about how her husband was an alcoholic and they suffered in the early years because of it. She told me he gave up drinking while her kids were still young, and how she fought so hard for him to do so so the cycle would be ended. She told me stories about how one of her sons, despite having this amazing woman as a mother and a father that gave up alcohol for their family, still fell victim to prescription drugs and became an addict. God took this family in his hands though, and through 4 months in inpatient rehab he was able to get the help he needed, and was able to put together a lovely life in time. 

I was quiet, and just took it all in. It’s amazing what we can learn from other people. All these years, in my mind, I never would have thought this woman had so many problems. I saw her as this free spirit, with a perfect marriage, who loved her adult sons and has always shown so much pride in them. When I would meet with her, or other teachers at the school, I would feel like a wounded dirty bird. That although I was dressed nice, smiling, and saying all the right things there was a deep hurt behind my smiling eyes. I used to wonder if people could see it, because I could. There are many pictures of me that if I look close enough I can see a sadness that is buried deep inside me. As I left that lunch feeling warm and grateful for spending such a lovely hour with this woman I began wondering if she shared with me her stories that were not made up of fairy tales of a perfect life because she knew all along that there was something not quite right with me, that there was a hurt, and in her wisdom by sharing she was giving me a gift. 

To be honest with everyone I have not been completely alcohol free lately. I am slipping here and there, and it has given my husband relief, but it is making me feel terrible about myself. I feel in limbo, trying to decide how I can do all of this because I really don’t want to cut out my dear dear friends that make me feel loved and a part of a life we have created. We have a wedding next Sunday that is over 3 hours away so I have volunteered to be the designated driver for everyone because we will all have to drive home that night so we can go to work on Monday, so I am shielded from that event.  But I can’t shield myself forever, and I know I need to get back in a better frame of mind. I don’t want to just sit around thinking about not drinking, and I’ve received many sage words of wisdom from you women, letting me know this will get better. That it becomes a new normal, that I won’t be consumed with these thoughts. I love knowing that, and I’m probably foolishly trying to speed it up just by shear willpower. But I think I have learned that shear willpower cannot last forever. So I’m going to go back to basics today. I’m going to take it one day at a time, and I will not drink today. I am going to going to go to work as I finish out this last week at my old job. I’m going to take the time to go to the gym on my lunch hour, and I’m going to yoga after work. And I’m going to be grateful for a new day.

Happy Monday!

Start Again

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve written here. I will peak from time to time at others’ posts, and my heart will lend itself to the stories that are told. It is such an amazing place for all of us to come together to share our world of trying to conquer the things that are causing us harm. But I struggle knowing what to say, to give advice. I always think that I am not qualified because I’m just trying to figure out each day myself at this point. 

I was becoming obsessed with this non drinking world I was living. It was taking up most of my moments. I delved deeper into myself and I was analyzing most of my time. I was either loving my non drinking self and wanted to wear a t-shirt that said “Non Drinker, High on Life!”, or I was in the depths, wondering how I was going to live my life as an outsider, how am I going to save my marriage, how am I going to explain to clients that I do not drink. Sure, there were times that I thought I could handle it, and I felt that I had the magic key to clarity and true living. But there were many times that I thought my obsessiveness was ruining my life in a different way. So I decided to back off. To try to  learn how to just be me, and to be forgiving, non judgmental, and to just do the next right thing. I tried to focus on my work during the day and not just on being sober so that I could learn to live a normal life. So I’m trying, and a lot of time I’m succeeding, and some of the time I’m failing. 

I overcame a huge hurdle this week. I accepted an offer at a new company which is like a dream come true! I will be leaving my high stress sales job for a new position that will offer a bit more of everything, and I can’t wait. I am one luck sober girl this morning, and I’m hoping to handle being on this site a bit more again, to be able to join you sober sisters with truth telling and encouragement. Thank you to all who share. There’s so much learning that takes place when we open our hearts and minds to others.   

Pink Clouds

I was reading Unpickled, Jean McCarthy’s blog, and in a recent post she mentioned the Pink Cloud phase of sobriety. Wow! There was a name for that euphoria, that intense OH MY GOD I’M SOBER AND PROUD AND FEEL GOOD AND AMAZING which was waaayyyyy better than any cocktail or glass of wine that I’d ever had! But now those feelings are gone, and I’m waking up every morning not hung over, but not especially feeling so great either. Not having those feelings of feeling like a bad ass makes it more difficult not to drink, and that, my friends, really sucks.

When I quit drinking I thought everything was going to get better. I thought my sales at work would go through the roof, and I saw promotions, pats on the back, an employee of the CENTURY plaque at my desk and my very own parking place. But that didn’t happen. Actually I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, and at my revenue driven company that is not okay. Perform, perform, perform or get out of the way because somebody’s ass will be sitting in your seat if you don’t press on the gas! So that’s been a real bummer, and I’ve been thinking lately,”Hey Sobriety, I thought you were going to solve all my problems, and Hey Drinking, I thought you caused all the problems? What the hell is going on here and where did my pink cloud go? If my pink cloud was around me I wouldn’t care about work, I’d figure I’d manage my relationship with my husband some way somehow, and I’d keep on spreading good cheer and cheerleading a life of sobriety. But my pink cloud zoned out on me, or I zoned out on it and the skies are gray.

I mentioned my relapse recently in another post. That really sucked and I haven’t felt the same about myself since. I know I need sober people in my life, and although this group has been the biggest support I’ve ever gotten in any attempt to stop drinking I realize I need real people. But I’ve been lazy about that too. I’m tired. I’m tired of thinking about drinking, not drinking, sobriety, maybe I can drink at this occasion, maybe I’m not alcoholic, maybe I am an alcoholic, maybe I should see a therapist, maybe I need to go to AA, maybe I need to get away from here, maybe I need a new job, and on and on and on and on. I want to stop focusing so much on all of this and just get on with it already, and when I say IT I just mean life.

I have this habit of shutting down when things get to be too much. I retreat, and just go through the motions. I’m afraid I’ve been doing this lately, and I am recognizing it threatens my sobriety. I am in awe of the women in this group that reached out to me to see if I’m okay since I’ve been quiet lately. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That act of kindness, that realization that somebody was thinking of me and my sobriety meant more than you will ever know. It was exactly the kick in the butt I needed to pull myself out of the gray skies. I’m realizing the skies of sobriety may not always be full of pink fluffy clouds, but even when the skies are gray the skies are always blue, and the sun is always shining once you bust through those gray clouds. So this morning, for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling rather cheery, and happy happy happy about another sober morning.

Happy Sober Thursday Everyone!