Searching for Joy and Pulling Plugs

Damn it, I knew this new path of mine was going to suck some days. I was right. It does. And then it doesn’t. To be completely honest, it is hard to tell whether I miss the man or the wine  most. Let’s just say that my life would be so much easier right now if I could numb out with one or the other. Either or both served the same purpose in my life on any given day. Combined? It felt as if my life just completely rocked!

I say life completely rocked but we all know that is just not true. It felt good for the moment and helped me avoid the hurt and fear associated with a series of ugly life tasks. Basic ones like figuring out who I am at any given moment.

Who was I in the worst moments? I suppose I have to go back (ALWAYS) to ending a long-term marriage that produced two of the most awesome young adults I’ve ever known. A marriage that looked great on the outside. That moment when I had to look those amazing kiddos in the eyes and tell them the truth about their parents was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Stabbing your own babes in the heart is completely out of the sphere of normal in my world. Two therapists married for 26 years can’t stay together. Really? At that moment, I was the ultimate phony.  A phony mother, who could not put the good of her children and family above her own selfish desires to have a real marriage. The ultimate betrayer who hurt the people I loved the most.

I realize now that no one, not even those delicious kids of mine, would expect me to continue to stay married to a man who had perfected the fine art of walking and talking while dead. The man did not want me and had not for many, many years. The man lived in books and not in real life. The man hid from me and the kids for a long, long time. He was, and is, a wonderful man in so many ways. Geez, the whole community still tells me that. But honestly, he was not a good husband. Someone had to pull the plug. The dead man wouldn’t, so I did. Courage. Looking back, I can see that it took courage to do that. It seems that one thing I have in this life is courage. Sometimes I had to medicate myself from the fear associated with that courage. Pour another glass and keep going.

My next plug-pulling episode was truly a matter of life and death. Literally. It seems that I wait until I can no longer stand it for a second before I pull the plug on something. I also wait until there is no going back. Pulling the plug on Daddy seemed right. I believe now, and did at the time, that Daddy was better off unplugged. His life was a living hell in so many ways. Years of alcoholism, in and out of recovery, haunted by his childhood and heaven knows what else. His last years were spent drinking daily, mostly around the clock. Coupled with his lung disease, it is amazing to me that he lasted as long as he did. Smothering to death must be the most frightening thing. I thought drinking was a great idea for him at the end.  I thought it made sense for me too.

I always wondered why he was so afraid to let go. He would never say. I’ve been the person in my family yelling loudly that I have no intention of living forever. He always said I would change my mind when my turn rolls around. He had all the necessary advanced directives, living will, etc. Yet, there is no law in my state that allows a physician to honor that if the person holding the power of attorney is not in agreement. Or if the family is not on board. My family wasn’t on board. We always thought Daddy would bounce back. He always had in the past and figured he would this time. He didn’t. I never understood what my family wanted him to bounce back to.  A life of living hell?

That life of living hell was the argument I made to the nurse in charge of his care.  The nurse who refused to let him die and assured me that he was not at death’s door. The one who just absolutely refused to move him to the level of care that allowed comfort only. I still wish I could find the nurse and unleash the words that would allow him to know that he is not God almighty.  I suspect the nurse hates alcoholics and wanted Daddy to suffer, wanted him to feel the consequences of his decades of alcoholism.  Getting to the doctors was impossible.  It was Christmas Eve/Day.  We had to wait till the day after to let him die.  Fine with the rest of the family because they weren’t going to let him go anyway.  The bottom line is that I did flex my plug-pulling muscle.  I did get the plug pulled by yelling loudly and forcing the issue with medical professionals and the family.  I still believe it was the right thing to do. At least I hope.  Pour another bottle of wine and worry about it another day, Katie Scarlet.

Who put me the hell in charge of this plug pulling?  Well, I did, of course.  It seems I have a really long history of being the one to pull the plug.  Or the one to say the thing that cannot be spoken.  My foot-stomping-we-will-not-live-in-darkness has resulted in lots of darkness anyway.  So now the plug is pulled on the wine.  Or maybe the plug is put in the wine.  The plug is pulled on this relationship.  Did I do that?  Actually, yes I did but only when presented with circumstances that just cannot be tolerated.  I realize the high tolerance for inappropriate things is typical of adult children of alcoholics.  Hell, I realize a lot of things but seem unwilling to tackle them all at once.  Who wants to be a constant make-over project?  Yet, that is where I am.

My next task is to pull the plug on all this sadness and fear and allow positive things in my life.  Surely, I am not the only middle-aged woman living with this fear of being alone forever and being a pitiful cat lady.  I have courage.  The next few days/weeks will be spent excavating my courage. Without the blinders of the booze or the man. Trying new things.  Grieving fully.  But I also know I’m trying to rush the process.  I don’t do process well.  It takes too long. The realization that this finding joy might take longer than a few days is scary.  I am used to the quarter system.  Surely this will not take an entire semester!

Thanks for listening y’all.  I mean it.  Send love.  Send support.  I need it today.

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Heartsick, Weary, and Sober

Ugh. The dreaded day is upon me and I don’t have my beloved wine to take the edge off. Great. Freakin’ damn beautiful. If you have read my previous posts, you know that I have often referred to my boyfriend and my wine as The Bastard. My relationships with both have been similar. I knew the breakup with Bastard #1, the Wine, would be painful. Even though I took time to prepare myself, I was not really ready for that break up. I was very ambivalent about breaking up with alcohol. I was not ready for the break up with the BF just yet either. Yes, I knew it might be on the horizon. I just thought I had more time. Really. How is that for denial? More time, deal with it tomorrow, chug another glass of wine, deal with it tomorrow. But with BF, I thought we had come to a peaceful, meaningful relationship.

Not so. I guess it is like thinking you have the wine under control It was an illusion. Tomorrow is here. I have invested so much of my heart and soul into this man. We have had some really difficult times, but things had gotten so good over the last year. Great conversations, really understanding each other, issues resolved. And then he tells me last night that he is back in touch with his ex. The one he never got over apparently. They have been apart for more than 15 years he says. Neither of them could move on so apparently, they need to be able to spend time with each other. You know, to either help with the process of moving on or to get back together. Mind you, she will only talk to him when she is drunk. She won’t have anything to do with him when sober. So many messages there. I just wish he had been honest with me over the past year, as he put more energy than ever before into our relationship. All that energy? It was his last ditch effort to make things work. He never bothered to tell me that he thought it would help him get over her and help make us okay at the same time.

So, I get it I guess. I understand having to revisit and resolve unfinished business. But damn. Why lie to me in the process? I also understand that there are people in the world dealing with much more difficult lives. Some people have real serious issues to manage. However, that knowledge does not make my heart feel one bit better tonight. It is heavy and hurting. The only reason I don’t drink is that I know I’ll just have to quit again. And I know that it will not help one single thing in the long run.

Thanks for listening, y’all. I mean it.

Relapse Planning

Keeping up with blogging about my sober path is proving more difficult than I imagined. At first, I thought I had so much to say. So much worthy shit flowing from this head, through my fingers, reaching far and wide. Hell. I don’t have a lot to offer right now. Except that I am still not drinking. More than 100 days, though I don’t have a clue right now how many more than 100. Pretty good, right?

Part of the reason I’ve had little to say is that I’ve been planning my relapse. Officially planning my reentry into the drinking world. Oh, I’m not going back to my wine. I’d love that so much, but I know there is no way to make that one work right now. Likely, never. But surely I could have a beer, right? Scary thinking, for sure.

The triggers were especially strong this weekend. I attended an annual event with the BF. It is one of those events with lots of drinking and dancing. And really upsetting histories. If I am honest with myself, I absolutely find no value in attending that particular event and should have sent BF without me. Both of us would have had a better weekend. Then, there was the actual conversation with the BF. God, having a BF in midlife is hard sometimes. Likely more fun than NOT having one, but geez. If any two people miscommunicate more when having serious discussions, they are likely not a couple anymore. BF is the only person in the world that I experience that level of miscommunication. Damn it. At some point, the shit will outweigh the great sex and companionship.

Perhaps it was just a lot to manage in one weekend. The conversation and the event. But damn I wanted my wine. I spent the weekend thinking about and discussing how I would start drinking again. It is not a coincidence that relapse planning and stinky brain activity occurred in the same weekend. Aware. Not sure which came first, the stinky thinking or the shitty weekend or the relapse planning. And not sure it matters. I just know that I have more work to do in managing the emotional life in sobriety. And the self-care.

I did not drink. I am grateful for that decision. Profoundly. I am continuing the meditation, reading sober blogs, trying new ways to live in sobriety. Surrounding myself with good things and good people.

Thanks for reading, y’all. Needing to hold myself accountable here.

Sober Realities

I have several things on my mind tonight. The first thing is that I am profoundly grateful to continue on this path of no alcohol. Even in my steadfast refusal to make promises about future drinking habits, I am becoming much more comfortable with not drinking. It has been 80+ days. Maybe even closer to 90. Never expected intended to make it this long. I am somewhat opposed to counting the days because it feels sort of like a set up to me in some ways. I’ll count for a while longer though (Belle’s 100-Day Challenge).

The next thing I’ve been rolling around this weekend is all the mental clutter I’ve started sorting through. Truckloads of fear banging around in my heart and head. I do believe fear of something (fill in the blank) is the root of everything for me. It seems I am always searching for security even though I realize there is no such thing. If ever there is an illusion, it is security.

The loneliness is oozing out of my pores on occasion as well. This weekend, the loneliness married the fear, so both increased exponentially.  Nothing like one to fuel the other. In my more rational moments, I am able to change my thinking, thus changing my feelings.  At this point in my life, I can certainly make choices that will put me in the path of connections with other people.  The ability to connect with others used to be one of my strengths. Maybe it still is something I can do successfully.

For me, it is true that giving up alcohol is making me face life without my friend to numb me out.  While uncomfortable at times, it really is not awful.  Not by a long shot.  I’m enjoying doing things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  Like painting furniture.  The pieces are not turning out exactly like I expected, but I’m still enjoying turning something ugly into something pretty. I’m exercising more.  Yoga and CrossFit might not be the most likely combination for a middle-aged woman. But damn I feel strong.  Hopefully, the weight will start to come off soon.  And, I can actually read the entries in my gratitude journal because they are no longer written in a drunken scrawl.  I’ve been using the gratitude journal for many years (way before it was popular to do so) and finding it more useful than ever.

All in all, I think I really like this sobriety thing.  Though it is certainly not perfect, it is a much better path than the one I was on before.  All you folks out there in sober blogland are so helpful.  I am thankful for the support, encouragement, and motivation out there.  Thanks y’all.

 

Blah for the 2nd week….

Seems like I get settled into a nice little routine but it does not last very long.  I find myself in a state of blah.  Not much to look forward to, the reasons I needed extra chill help glaring at me, plus it is just stinkin damn hot.  Summer in the Southeast is a lot like I imagine hell will be.  Hot and muggy.  Never have enjoyed the heat and now with more weight than I want and more years behind me, I like it even less.  Makes me grumpy.

Honestly, I am struggling to get into vacation mode.  Who the hell has to do that?  God.  Pathetic.  My heart should be singing…..I have some time coming up with both kids.  I am really looking forward to that.  But the heart is also heavy with that dang damn man I’m with.  Realizing more and more how much I love him and how much he is one of the textbook can’t commit-but-I’m-having-fun kind of guys.  Such a lovely thing for a middle-aged woman to have to deal with.

And I am way, way behind at work.  Missing deadlines.  Plus, it is freakin hot.  Did I mention I hate hot?  Obviously, would love a glass of wine.  Going to bed instead.  Embarrassed to post this but going to anyway.

Thanks for listening, y’all.

 

 

Day 51

So, I am at Day 51.  Seems like yesterday and forever since my last drink(s).  I still tend to think of it as my last “glass of wine.”  The reality is that my last drink was an entire bottle of wine combined with a 6-pack of beer.  Or maybe it was 8 beers. But, I was out of wine, it was Sunday, and I live in an area where Blue Laws still exist.  What was I to do but add that 6-pack or risk getting a DUI driving to the next county for wine.  Sadly, I could have gotten a DUI the next morning because when it came time for work, I was still buzzed.  And sick.  Oh, I was oh so sick.  

Since that time, I have had some amazingly easy days along with those equally difficult ones, which I have loudly whined about here on this blog.  I have accomplished a few things that I am proud of, for sure.  Like 51 days for starters.  Celebrations, dinner parties, daily life, work stress, and most recently, a beach weekend with my girlfriends.  Like everything else, it was both difficult and easy.  I missed the camaraderie and the buzz with friends, but watched a couple of them get stupid and was grateful to be sober.  

My other thing that I’m proud of, in true middle-aged woman fashion, is the results of my annual checkup today.  The doctor was amazed and the improvement in the ol’ lipid panel and kept asking me what I had changed.  I confessed my abstinence but not the amount of booze I had been consuming.  I really did not want to be that older woman who was thrilled with better blood work, but I have become her.

In my day-to-day existence, I no longer think about wine very much.  But during those times of stress or excitement,  it is still the first thing on my mind.  Things are coming to my mind that make me sad.  I have a plan for those things.  Since they are stored on a shelf for safe keeping, I plan to unpack them one at a time.  Might even wallow in them a bit before discarding them with other pieces of clutter.  it will be interesting to see what I end up with.  

I’m getting more content with this sobriety thing as I go.  And more open to the AA thing, though that is still up in the air.  

Thanks for listening, y’all.  

Clearing the Clutter

Today is Day 41.  And it has been a struggle.  Now that I’ve had time to pick apart the struggle, I can see where many unresolved issues have  collided.  For one thing, it is Saturday.  The day after Friday, which is the hardest day of the week for me.  This particular Friday was especially difficult.  I was at the lake for the first boating day of the season.  Truly, I salivated as I watched others downing their favorite adult beverages.  Then, I attended a small dinner party with the BF.  Again, it was hot outside and I drooled as I watched people savor chilled white wine.  Be still my heart. 

Now here is the real deal.  Like most of you, I have allowed emotions to be stacked on a shelf, to be unpacked at a later time.  Is there ever a convenient time to deal with unpleasant stuff?  Nah, not really.  The unpleasant emotion of the day is unshakable sadness.  As I was working on the basement and trying to sort through an amazing amount of clutter, I realized I was sorting through my mental and emotional clutter.  The areas of my life that I’ve pushed down my internal basement cannot remain buried forever.  

Some of my sadness is the normal feelings of loss that accompany children growing up and leaving home.  I am mostly grateful that both are happy, healthy, and doing the normal thing.  But I continue to struggle with the regret of missed opportunities with them, times I was not there for them, and the realization that the majority of my mothering is over.  I was not ready to let it go and regret that I botched some of the most important times with them.  I’ve whined about that in a previous post and won’t continue to wallow in that feeling.  But it is there, for sure. 

Then there is the loss of the family unit.  I promise not to make a career out of whining about that divorce, but damn it makes me mad that I am stuck in this money pit that was once the family home. Stuck. Alone.  And cleaning out the basement of this money pit reminds me that I have been the one to hold the family memories.  I’ve been the one to take care of everyone else’s feelings, sometimes at the expense of my own self.  Hanging onto stuff, hanging onto memories.  Everyone else has moved on, started creating a new life for themselves.  And, they have each done so without all the crap from the past.  At least the literal crap. No, all their crap is in my basement.  I’ve called a local charity to pick this shit up on Tuesday morning. 

In addition to this feeling of loss for family stuff, I have this boyfriend issue.  While he is great in some ways, he really sucks in others.  I simply have to face the fact that this relationship has been hurtful in some ways.  My drinking did not help the relationship at all, except when it did.  Now I have to see that relationship for what it is/isn’t and deal with the wounds I’ve nursed over the past year or so with him.  

The most important thing on my mind tonight is that I am still searching for pieces of myself.  The parts of myself I’ve stored in my basement along the way might not even be recognizable yet. But I sure do feel them and know they are there somewhere.  Sunday is my birthday.  Fifty-damn-six.  Too old to be missing this many pieces of myself.  And I miss my wine.  Damn it, I miss the wine this weekend.

This bit of whining and moaning seemed important tonight.  I feel the need to get it out of my system.  It is not helpful to pretend things are easy when, in fact, things have been difficult for the past 2 days.  Yet, I am grateful and hopeful that things are getting better with more sobriety under my belt.  I am aware that I have so much to be thankful for and will feed the gratitude more than I will feed the sadness.  Just needed to say it.  Thanks for listening y’all. 

Sober Professor?

Good lord have mercy.  Have the cravings been hiding somewhere, doing pushups and in every other way generating extra muscle?  Apparently.  Really, the cravings arrived on the scene today at the most unexpected time.  I absolutely could not figure out from whence they came.  After thinking about it, I realized that I usually do a specific grading program at the end of each semester with a very LARGE glass of wine.  Okay, okay.  With a BOTTLE of wine.  Isn’t that sort of a large glass?  Bottom line, I am doing that grading system without booze.  Been doing it all day.  No wonder.  So, I poured a huge glass of tonic water and found it quite acceptable.

Another happy note:  I’ve lost a few pounds.  Only from not drinking. Imagine what I could do if I had not replaced the wine with all these sweets!  Not to worry.  Sweets don’t make me ugly, hateful, argumentative, stupid, unable to speak, lazy……

it’s all good.  Hope everyone is doing well.  

30 Days with no Alcohol Therapy

I am so stinkin’ proud of myself.  I made it through the weekend celebrations and enjoyed every single moment.  The Baby Girl’s undergraduate education is a wrap.  I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had screwed up and embarrassed her during this weekend.  It was a great time to be sober.

To say I am extremely proud of both kids would be an understatement.  I’ve been gazing at pictures from the weekend for hours.  They are such beautiful creatures, inside and out.  Where did they come from?  They are 2 years apart in age and such good friends.  Truly, they enjoy each other’s company and have a lot in common.  Beautiful hearts, global thinkers.  In the past, I would have celebrated my adoration of these creatures with a delicious bottle of wine.  Would have gazed at the with real blurred vision and barely be able to walk to bed.

Now to deal with work stress the remainder of the week.  Working in academia is sometimes the best job in the world and sometimes the worst.  For the past 5 years, it has been the absolute worst.  When I have myself together enough, it will be time for a job search.  Too damn old for that but will try anyway.  Also plan to rebuild my private practice, which I gave up years ago to complete my doctorate.  Way too old for that as well, but it is done, old or not.

Like many of you, I used alcohol to celebrate, cope, mourn, socialize, normalize, and medicate.  I medicated the grief of losing a long-term marriage that I cherished, medicated the fears related to a future alone, an empty house, growing older.

Looking back, alcohol’s appearance as the major therapy modality arrived on the scene at the same time I decided I could no longer live with a dead man who could walk.  He didn’t talk mind you, but he did walk around the house and take up space.  I don’t blame him for the drinking at all, I’m just connecting the dots.  Booze did a much better job than the therapist we had been seeing.  Of course, anything would have because the therapist really sucked.  I suppose one hazard of the profession is being married to a therapist and then as a couple, trying to find a therapist.  I guess that is a different post for a different time.  To say this is not where I wanted or expected to be at midlife is an understatement.

I realize there is nothing special or unique about my situation except that  it is me and mine.   I am still determined to make the 2nd chapter a good one.  I’ll be looking for small treasures along the way, holding onto the belief that we all find what we are looking for. There is so much in my life to be celebrated with gratitude.

Then, if it all goes to shit, I have a fabulous retirement plan:  go to the rest home early with a bunch of wine, a carton of cigarettes, and some brownies.  Bet I’ll make lots of friends there.

Hope you all have a wonderful day.  Thanks for letting me talk.

Reasons to stay on the Sober Bus – Day 24

Let me just say that I really had little intention of making it to Day 24 without a drop of booze when I started this whole ride.  Not completely true, but there have been many days that I doubted my willingness to continue riding the sober bus.  Now, I am astonished that I’m still very determined to stay on the wagon long enough to give it a fair chance.  I suppose 24 Days is not anywhere close to enough time to find this thing called joy.  Some of those days have been incredibly long, others surprisingly quick and happy.

The thing that is keeping me going right now is that I don’t want to live with more regret.  I have more regrets in my life from abusing alcohol than any other single cause. I have never heard one person in my life say that they regretted staying sober.  Never.  No one in my family, not a single friend, never a client, no one on these blogs.  Living in regret does not allow for joy.  Determined to be joyful in recovery, dammit.

Thanks for listening again.  I’m glad you are there.