Posted in Recovery

Jokes about drinking

It’s been over a year since I posted here about my recovery. I thought I was done writing about it and closed up shop for the year. I decided to dust it off because there is no such thing as being done with recovery and sometimes it helps to write about it. If for nothing else than to dump it from your brain and move on.

There are many situations where I still feel uncomfortable when I see images or hear people talking about drinking. I’m not on Facebook much but when I log on there always seems to be a post or a meme about drinking. Face it many of us use(d) alcohol to dim the craziness of life sometimes and joke about it in the process. I just don’t find these jokes quite as funny anymore because they hit a little too close to home. Instead, meme’s can evoke feelings of not fitting in because I can’t comment or lol on these posts. I know this is all about me and not the people posting them.

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When I was drinking heavily, it was usually over a situation that didn’t go the way I wanted and I thought that’s what everyone did. Bad day at work? Go have a glass of wine and relax. Your husband or kid isn’t cooperating? A glass of wine will fix that. But most people could have one drink to chill out and that’s it. That’s not the way I drank.

My one drink to chill usually ended up in a hangover the next day. Until I was sick of being sick. And that’s where I decided I needed to put everything into not drinking again. Along the way, I learned about resentments and how to put them down on paper and really examine them from all angles. Usually I find that it’s all down to the expectations I put on other people and I have to remember I can only control me.

But when I see these images or hear someone tell me to go have a glass of wine (someone who doesn’t know I’m an alcoholic) it kind of gets my back up. A few weeks ago I was at a dinner with some moms at school. I generally avoid these situations because I don’t hear well in noisy environments (and most restaurants are noisy) and then someone usually asks why I’m not drinking. And of course someone did but instead of saying I don’t drink, I said I wasn’t feeling well (which was true) and that led them to say the alcohol could help my cold. Um, I’ll stick to ginger ale.

I’ve also bitten my tongue in conversations, particularly during early recover when I heard someone talk about alcoholics living on the streets. I wanted to interject that they don’t all live on the streets. Some of them are right here, right now, they don’t necessarily stick out lick a sore thumb. But I didn’t and I’m not sure when I’ll be comfortable enough to do that.

One thing I was nervous about with the (non-alcoholic) people I shared my situation with was that they’d feel uncomfortable around me, particularly talking about things like happy hour or other drinking occasions. But guess what, I think they forget all about it  or maybe I’m overly sensitive because people still talk about drinking around me which is OK. My alcoholism is a big part of MY life, but not so much anyone else’s.

Ok, now it’s out there. I feel better.

MC

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Recovery

This is goodbye

A year ago I began my true sober journey. It started off with a drink I didn’t know I was going to take and a realization this was something I couldn’t do on my own. Nothing dramatic happened such as a DWI or the loss of my family or job. But it was suddenly clear I could lose everything if I didn’t take drastic steps.

Last fall I was in deep, deep denial that I had a handle on things and that I could just go cold turkey. Marching straight ahead by sheer will and determination. I was seeing a wonderful therapist who I now understand was letting me find my way through this – sometimes with gentle suggestions. One of the suggestions I took, when I was finding it difficult to articulate how I was feeling, was to write about it. She told me to go deep.

What resulted was this blog which brought me through my first year of sobriety and has done exactly what I hoped it would do when I titled it: Mary 2.0, my journey to a richer life. Life has become very rich indeed and it isn’t about having the “perfect” life where everything is wonderful all the time. It has been about embracing life in all it’s messiness and feeling a sense of peace, hope and love in the face of it.

I have felt so grateful to have been able to share my journey and to receive so much wonderful encouragement along the way. The journey is far from over but it feels like it’s a good time to say goodbye. Thank you for accompanying me and until we meet again, be well.

MC

Posted in Life

Letting Ideas Percolate

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An idea has been sitting dormant for years and over the past 11 months it has been percolating as I’ve taken steps to bring it closer to reality. I want to write a book. Someday. At this point it’s not very clear to me what it will be about, whether it will be a novel or non-fiction, whether it will be happy or sad or real which means it will be a bit of both. I only know that it is something I want to do.

It started with this blog. I used to be an avid journal keeper and have put pen to paper many times to try and create something that would be publish-worthy. When I worked for a newspaper, I tried my hand at a few stories which were published but it was not the kind of writing I wanted to do.

Life has a way of keeping on and dreams can get lost in the shuffle. Particularly if you also have an untreated addiction. All the time that I frittered away because of that.  It is what it is and the future is now wide open.

I have taken a couple of writing classes, slowly getting the hang of putting these ideas to paper and working and re-working them like the gentle rubbing of a smooth stone. Most recently the class involved hearing critiques from others and that has been extremely helpful and less fearful than I had imagined it would be.

I love the quote above because it is so very true. Time is going to pass anyway whether you work toward your dream or not so you may as well take time for it. You never know what you can do until you try.

MC


Posted in Recovery

Travelling solo

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When was the last time you had a few consecutive days to yourself? If you are an introvert like me, you know that me time is not only a coveted thing, but also a necessity. With a nearly ten year old, you can imagine that snatching an hour here and there is about all I can achieve to help refuel my energies. Usually it’s time spent out running errands, shopping, at the gym, the occasional pedicure or massage.  All these happen in public, usually in the company of strangers.

Since we bought a home in Florida this past summer, the thought has been inching it’s way to the front of my mind, demanding my attention – why don’t you take a few days for yourself. When the drumbeat was so loud I could no longer ignore it, I hopped online and purchased a round trip ticket for one. And then waited and waited and waited until the day came when it was time to go.

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Posted in Life

Smoking in the Boys Room

I was born with a bad set of lungs. As a kid, I remember being sick a lot and would get infections as well as pneumonia often. Every so often it required a hospital stay to clear my lungs of the incessant mucus that accumulated there and I was subjected to therapy where a nurse or other medical staff would pound my chest and back to loosen it. Despite this, I loved visiting my pulmonary doctor in Albany, a four hour round trip from my town.

His name was Dr. Patterson and since they never knew how to categorize our illness (my brother had bad lungs too) they sent us to him because he specialized in Cystic Fibrosis, which would be a distant cousin to our lung ailment. Eventually it was given a name – Kartagener’s syndrome with situs inversus (our organs are transposed so the heart is on the right side). I thought we were special because that’s how Dr. Patterson made us feel!

Although I grew up with this condition, I didn’t let it define me and I was a very active kid. I took dance lessons, participated in gymnastics and ran around the playground playing tag with all the other kids. Sometimes I would find myself short of breath but I was a master at hiding when I needed to take a break by saying I had to go to the bathroom or talk to a teacher about something. I didn’t discuss it either and just wanted to be a normal kid.

Now, I have a confession to make. I became a smoker.

I know what you’re thinking but it was the perfect way to show other people I was just like them. Give me a puff of that cigarette. I’m cool too. The kicker is I started very young (sixth grade), but I wasn’t out buying packs at this point. My older sister was a secret smoker and I would nab one or two from her and my friend and partner in crime would pilfer a couple from her sister too. We’d sneak behind the bushes after school and puff away.

Smoking_Report_Anniversar51-1024x633.jpgBy seventh grade, we were leaving school property on the ruse that we were going home for lunch but would instead head downtown to a townie bar where there was a cigarette machine and video games in the poorly lit, smokey back room. During the week we collected all the quarters we could find and would spread them on a table counting out the change for a pack of Marlboro Lights. The rest would be used to play Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders. Before returning to school we’d spritz our mouth with breath freshener and spray ourselves with Baby Soft perfume.

In eighth grade we were ready to up the stakes since neither of us had gotten caught by the teachers or our parents. On a dare we lit up in the boys bathroom during recess but our self-assuredness was our undoing. As we exited the bathroom, Sister Catherine Ann was walking by and we were collard and marched to see Sister James Marie the Principal and the toughest of all the nuns. We were not caught smoking, though, and were punished for entering the boys room instead.

 

The jolt of nearly being caught out forced me to reflect on what I was doing and the smoking soon petered out. I did light the occasional cigarette right up through college, usually accompanied by a drink. The smoke made my lungs wheezy and uncomfortable and I finally decided I didn’t need to be cool anymore.

MC

Posted in Life

South of the Border!

I would like to lighten up the mood around here since it has been a heavy  week and re-kindle a memory of family car trips to points south during spring vacations in the late 70’s. Well one particular trip when we were driving to Florida to finally visit Disney World!!! Oh, the joy!

Also, because we were driving, we were taken out of school for an extra week. Rapture. Excitement. Bliss. We traveled with a caravan of friends, all with campers because that is how we rolled. Our set up was a small camper that we towed behind an old blue station wagon that looked a lot like this:

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We spent weeks planning, packing, organizing. It was me, my parents, my older brother and younger sister. The oldest three siblings were in high school and too cool to travel with their family. Or maybe there was no room for them. Finally the morning of our departure dawned and at the crack of dawn we rolled out of our driveway to meet the other families at a nearby rest stop.

Now in the 70’s we may not have had cell phones but we sure had CB radios and had great fun talking back and forth with each other but you had to know the language. It was thrilling to hear the truckers talking to each other – “what’s your handle”,”big 10-4″. Without the internet as a guide we did our best to decipher their codes as they warned each other of “pigs” and “checkpoint charlie’s”.

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A CB from the 70’s

So we stretched out in the back of the wagon with sleeping bags, pillows, comic books and treats. There was no concern for seat belts or safety in those days and we freely moved about the car much to my dad’s chagrin.  Thankfully we lived to tell. Once we met up with the other families, there were 5 or so, we jockeyed our positioning so we were travelling with our buddies (and not our own family).

This was the first time we were going to be south of North Carolina. I’m not sure where the signs began, but we were greeted by giant billboards exclaiming our entry into South of the Border for miles and miles.  I think there were hundreds of them!

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There were teasers for fireworks (of course we needed to pick up some of those!), but other than that we were not quite sure what fun and excitement awaited us there. Each billboard  was as colorful, mysterious and enticing as the last. “Are we there yet?” was heard quite a bit on that trip!

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Well, other than the firecrackers, I don’t recall there being anything too exciting at South of the Border. We arrived at night so it was all lit up and pretty cool looking but I remember thinking the billboards may have been a little overdone. I’m sure there were gift shops (a treasure for sixth grade me) and maybe a miniature golf course or small amusement park. But hey, we were headed for Disney, the biggest fun park in the world!  So fireworks purchased (by the dads) we jumped back in our various cars and listened to the trucker slang as we drifted to sleep and dreams of Mickey Mouse.

MC

 

Posted in Addiction

Losing the Battle of Addiction

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Yesterday was my nephew’s funeral. The cause of death, as my courageous in-laws ended the first sentence of his obituary was, he died of a heroin overdose. He was 33. This is a singular heartbreaking moment in their lives that will ripple on through to the end of their days and no words seem sufficient to help ease this burden.

As we learned shortly after his death it has been a long, mostly private struggle for them. I imagine they have feared this call over the past few years, worrying over the twin diseases of depression and addiction, not knowing which one would take him someday or if he would finally find he was ready for something else. As a parent I cannot fathom their heartbreak and pain. I have tried to put myself in their shoes but find I am not strong enough to even consider it.

As a family, we have muddled through these past few days. Offering hugs, our ears, our hearts. Helping with the details where we can so the family can concentrate on their grief, their vast, insurmountable grief. He had a twin brother and a younger sister, nephews. He had many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends so the tail of broken hearts will be long.

Continue reading “Losing the Battle of Addiction”