Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Take what you need...

This post is probably going to come off a little ranty, but I need to get something off my chest.

Just because a person is sober, even if they have long term sobriety, doesn't mean they are wise, kind, or even good people.  Most sober people I have met both in and out of the program are good people, some of the best people I know are in the program. But getting sober and maintaining sobriety does not automatically make someone a good role person.  Or as I like to say, 'there are assholes everywhere, even in AA'.  Sadly though, it seems that too often people act as if the word of a recovering alcoholic is scripture.  Let me clue you in though, getting sober does not make you God.  Sober people are still people.  They have opinions and they make mistakes.  They can give us great advice and act as an example of how to recover and how to live a sober life and even how to be a good person but they can also still make mistakes and occasionally give us bad advice.  And you know what, that's okay.  It's okay if your sponsor, your sober role model, sometimes messes up.  AS LONG AS YOU ADMIT THEY CAN MESS UP. 

There's an old phrase in the program that doesn't get used often enough; 'Take what you need and leave the rest'.  It means that when you are sitting around a table (or on an internet forum) and listening to all the different stories you should pluck the nuggets of gold out, the things that resonate with you, and leave the rest behind.  People express a lot of opinions and not all of them are right, yet so many people seem to think that they have to agree with everything an old timer says, that they have to do everything a sponsor tells them to.  They think there is only one way to work the program (their way!).  That is just not the case folks!  Different people need different things.  A wise sponsor will recognize what their sponsee needs and help them in that way, or, if they can't provide that, tell the sponsee kindly to find someone else to guide them.  I am blessed that I have such a sponsor, but time and again I see people say things that boil down to "it's my way or the highway".  Maybe that worked back in the 30's and 40's, but humanity and society have changed so much since then. My sponsor recently told me that the recovery rate back then for people in the program used to be 1 in 10, now it's1 in 30.  I have to wonder if it's the abrasiveness and, forgive the word, cruelty of some of the members that is part of what is driving people away.

I have seen people at meetings yelling in other people's face.  I have heard them tell others to shut up.  And I have heard the most horrifying advice being given to some of the most fragile people; advice given as if it were the word of God rather than the opinion of a flawed human being.  That is not the sobriety that I want, and I feel sorry for anyone who thinks that is what they have to put up with to get sober.  I will continue to stick up for the fragile ones, when they are getting bad theology crammed down their throats, and remind the others that we are all unique in our path of recovery.   It's sacrilegious to many, to question the program, to question someone when they claim how they learned to recover is they only way, but in my opinion it's a critical thing to learn in order to continue becoming one's true self. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Revelations: Part 1

I've been avoiding writing this for a couple of days now.  I've been avoiding writing anything about my recovery, except little snippets in my online recovery group, for a long time.  My last post here was 2 years ago, for Pete's sake.  And just because I'm writing now, doesn't mean I'm back to this blog.  No guarantees, but I'll try.  In the meantime I need to get some stuff out and this is the best stage for my drama.

Quick update- my girls are now 9 and nearly 12 years old.  I have 3 years and 9 months of sobriety.  I'm still married, still working, still attending AA- although not nearly as much as I should.  I have religion, but I haven't attended my house of worship in over a year.  My spiritual well has just about done run dry, but I'm working on that.  This post will explain more.

Let's start with Saturday night.  I haven't been feeling well (went to Urgent Care yesterday and I have bronchitis and a sinus infection).  My fuse is extremely short when I'm sick or in pain.  My younger daughter, who is for better or worse so much like me, has the same issue.  So Saturday night we were at each other's throats.  She yelled at me, I yelled at her, she tried to manipulate me with guilt and how she feels so unloved, I yelled at her for being selfish and manipulative.  Not my finest moment.  She locked herself in the bathroom sobbing, I was still so angry!  I sent my husband to talk with her, he bailed, he actually left the house.  Legitimately we needed toilet paper but did we really need it right then?!  I was pissed that he left.  But later on I was so glad he did...

At some point while her dad was gone, my daughter came down the stairs.  I can't remember how our conversation started, but it ended with both of us lying on the couch, arms wrapped around each other, sobbing our eyes out.

As she came down the stairs, I remembered how my dad used to yell at me, how terrified I was of him.  He had a key chain with tons of keys that he wore on his belt and it would jangle when he walked.  I'd get a knot of dread in my stomach every time I heard those keys come jangling down the hall. He was always yelling at my sister and I, screaming at us, taking all his own frustration and resentment and anger out on us.  He wasn't an alcoholic, but he had PTSD from Vietnam, a bad marriage, an abusive mother, and a horrible work situation in which he was being badly bullied.  He had a lot of rage and we bore the brunt of it.  Looking at my crying child, I realized I was doing the exact same thing.  I have a lot of frustration, resentment, sadness, and anger in my life right now, which I won't go into at the moment.  I can't take it out on my husband, or my colleagues, or my clients, so I take it out on my kids.  I hate that.  I hate myself when I do it.  Logically I know I am perpetuating childhood patterns and that I have the power to not repeat my parent's mistakes, but emotionally that old track just takes over when my defenses are down.  I'm not making excuses, just telling it like it is.  I want to change, but I don't know how.  I think I took a step in the right direction that night though...

Standing there, I told my daughter some of these things.  I told her how my dad treated me, how bad it made me feel.  I told her I didn't want her to feel that way.  I told her about my other fears, how she is so much like me but I don't want her to turn out like me.  I want her to have so much more, so much better of a life than I have had so far.  We both cried, a lot.  Every time I started crying again she'd start crying again because she didn't want me to cry!  I realized just how much of myself I am projecting on her, and how much of myself I still hate about myself. 

Brutal honesty here- I tend to think of her as selfish, manipulative, rude, and arrogant.  I assume she is an alcoholic in the making and I worry that her attitudes and behavior will take her to very dark places in life.  I worry she will die young from reckless, addictive behavior, or that she will live a lonely, sad life with no one to love her.  I realized in this night that all of those things are how I see MYSELF.  When I see her throwing a tantrum or worrying needlessly over something small  I see myself at that age in my head, throwing the same type of tantrum, having those same worries.  I see where that stinking thinking, even at such a young age, took me in life and I do not want that life for my children!  I've always thought this was fear, and it is in part, but it's also anger.  This is where my disease comes in...

I realized I still judge myself, still think of myself, as the person I was before I got sober.  In my mind I am still a terrible person and when I say I don't want my daughter to be like ME it's that drunk me that I don't want her to be like.  But I'm nearly 4 years sober, that isn't me any more!  Can I learn to love myself AS I AM NOW?  Can I forgive that old me, accept that I am changed, and be happy with who I am?  Can I see myself as a role model for how I would like my daughter to be someday?  The sober me?  Honestly I don't know, but I'm trying.

 I'm also trying not to look at my daughter as my mirror.  I'm trying to see her for HERSELF, not as a mini-me.  I'm trying to focus on her good traits, and she has so many!  She is smart, beautiful, talented, kind, generous, honest, loving, and gentle. She is so much more than her anxiety and her temper, and if I can focus on that I believe our interactions will be a lot more peaceful.  One step at a time, one day at a time, we can make our relationship stronger and I can, I WILL, be a better mother to her.

Friday, March 11, 2011

God is good!

A couple of weeks ago my husband got demoted at work and a huge pay cut. I was really worried about how we will make due; he's looking for a new job but the economy here is just so awful who knows if or when he'll find something. We already live paycheck to paycheck and there was no way to absorb the cut. But I figured as long as we do our part (search for jobs, cut costs, be responsible, and pray) God will do his part and see us through.

Fast forward to today, my boss calls me into his office and the directors of the company are there. He shuts the door and I'm thinking 'shit, I'm going to get fired.' But guess what? I GOT A RAISE! And it's nearly enough to make up for the income we lost from my husband. I couldn't help myself, I said to them, "I am praising God in my head for this blessing!" They looked at me kind of weird but it was all good. Honestly I don't think God could have made his presence in my life more known at that moment if a brick had appeared in the air and fallen on my head. :D

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alcoholism by any other name...

I'm addicted to the internet. Actually, it's more than that. I'm addicted to distraction. TV, Netflix, music, blogs, it's all the same. I need it, in the background, the foreground, the in between. I spend 90% of my waking hours in front of a screen, and the rest wishing I was. I check Facebook hundreds of times a day. Yes, hundreds. It's a problem.

It started out innocently enough, checking in on email, Facebook, my favorite bloggers at the start of my day, along with my first cup of coffee. But now I get to the end of my 8 hour work day and I find that I haven't worked at all. And it's not just a day, it's every day. I am so behind on projects, by months for some of them. I claim to be busy, and I AM, but I'm mostly busy avoiding any work. It has to stop.

I come home and it's more of the same: I stream TV on my laptop while cleaning the kitchen, making dinner, eating, sewing, folding laundry, making the beds, taking a bath. The same way I used to have a glass of wine by my side all the time, I have my laptop playing something with me at all times. It has to stop.

My daughter was home sick today, and I was 'working from home'. I visited numerous blogs, posted dozens of links and statuses to Facebook, wrote friends, watched You Tube clips, and sat on my ass. My daughter amused herself by playing with PlayDo, watching a movie, making paper dolls, painting and reading. A few times she asked me to do something with her and I replied tersely with, 'I have to work', except I didn't work, I surfed. Suddenly it was 3, and I had to shower and get ready for appointments, errands and more. I didn't even have time to wash my hair, and I hadn't done anything I planned to do for the day. It has to stop.

It hit me today, what I've been joking to myself about for a while now, I'm addicted. I am keeping myself out of the present, keeping myself numbed and deluded with media. I am acting EXACTLY like I did when I was drinking. AND IT HAS TO STOP. Before I lose my job, my kids, my husband, my home. I can be irresponsible no longer.

It's tough, and I haven't figured out how I'm going to do it yet. I work in IT, I develop websites for a living, I have an online store. I can't exactly go cold turkey off the internet. I've tried moderating (only going online after the kids are in bed, deleting all my links on my browser) and it never works. So what to do? I don't know yet, I just knew I needed to get this out.

My name is Jane, and I am an addict and alcoholic.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The word care has many meanings, and today I am feeling them all.

1. A burdened state of mind, as that arising from heavy responsibilities: Work, which keeps piling more and more responsibilities on me.

2. Mental suffering: My alcoholic mind strolling hand in hand with my clinical depression.

3. An object or source of worry, attention, or solicitude: My children, one who is struggling with mental illness, the other who is struggling with a changing body and all the mental, physical, and hormonal anguish that brings with it.

4. Caution in avoiding harm or danger: My marriage, which is so fragile that one good blow could shatter it, so instead I walk on eggshells and keep everything bottled up inside.

a. Close attention; painstaking application:
b. Upkeep; maintenance: My sobriety, maintained through meetings and sometimes by the skin of my teeth.

1. To be concerned or interested: The girls in my Girl Scout troop, my friends, my family.

2. To provide needed assistance or watchful supervision: Again, my troop, who I care for, even though at this point I resent it very much.

3. To object or mind: The crappy people and parents I have to deal with on a daily basis, the ones who I try not to care about their actions, but I can't help but get worked up over them.

a. To have a liking or attachment:
b. To have a wish; be inclined: The things I would care to do: sew, sing, attend services, play with my kids. Right now I'm only managing to do one of those 4.

5. To be concerned to the degree of: For the most part, I don't care what people think of me. I don't care if I'm being a bitch to people. I don't care if people like me or not. Not in a healthy, 'what other people think of me is none of my business' way, but in a 'screw the whole world' kind of way.

Care is a big issue for me right now. I don't care what people think, and I don't care how I treat people, for the most part anyway. I'm TIRED. I don't want to do what I do anymore. I'm angry. I'm overburdened at work and seriously, extremely under paid. I'm overburdened at home, there is just too much to do for one woman to take care of it all. I resent my commitments, and I resent the people I have to deal with in the course of meeting those commitments. I'm numb. A few weeks ago I felt like a bomb about to explode and I was barely keeping all the crazy in. Now I feel dead. Which is worse? I know I need to open myself up and let myself feel again, but I'm scared so I tell myself I don't have the time. In small moments I fear that I am so busy that I'm missing out on my life. I'm going to wake up one day and find that I'm 50 and I'm all alone, with nothing but broken relationships and resentments on all sides to show for my years of running from one thing to the next. I need to take care of myself, I need to let myself care before it's too late.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Congratulations to Jenine of Snarkyville on winning the Gratitude Bracelet by Ellie! Thank you everyone who participated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Warning: this post is all over the place and more of a run-on ramble than a coherent post. You'll understand why by the end, if you bear with me.

Tonight I wrote a friend in recovery this text: "I am so f'ing sick of catering to other people's expectations!" You see I am really, horribly, sick right now, the kind of sick you only get once or twice a year. It started out as strep throat but because I didn't take any time to recover it's now progressed to my lungs and sinuses. I didn't take any time to recover because I felt I was needed: at work, to run my kid's to their activities, to lead a Girl Scout meeting, and to prepare for my parents arrival for a visit this Friday. I ran myself into the ground doing all of these things I felt I was 'expected' to do, and now I'm paying the price.

Earlier tonight I talked to my dad and told him I am 'sick as all get out' and that I would probably have to take tomorrow off to recover, which means I can't take Friday off to clean for their visit as planned. I warned him not to expect a shiny, organized house and he grumbled. We talked about their visit and it's clear that his expectations far exceed what I am capable of providing. After our talk, I dragged myself off the couch I had collapsed onto just 15 minutes or so before in order to make dinner for the family. I decided that I wasn't up to more than chicken nuggets and french fries and headed down to the basement deep freezer to grab them. When I walked into the basement, there I found my husband, in his robe, asleep on the couch. He had taken the day off and not even told me. Mildly put, I lost it. I yelled at him to get up, told him since he slept all day he could now feed, medicate, supervise and bathe the kids. I handed him the packages of frozen food and went to bed. But instead of sleeping I stewed.

I feel so put upon, by so many people. I am over-extended, over-worked, and overwrought. But the sober voice in my head is reminding me that I bring this all upon myself. I make the choices to do what I do, I can't blame other people my actions. And all these expectations that I feel I can't live up to, who is really putting them on me? In some cases, like with my parents, it's true that they hold me (and everyone) to a very high standard, but in others it's all me, it's all in my head. Would the Girl Scouts have cared if I had handed the meeting off to someone else? No. Would work have cared if I had stayed home a day or two? Not really. I want to stop catering to other people's expectations, but first I have to stop catering to MINE. I have to let myself breathe. It's scary, because this is how I treated myself in my drinking days. I was so hard on myself! I thought I'd gotten over that, but old habits die hard I guess. I need some of that serenity, some of that wisdom, that came in the first months of sobriety when everything was rosy. Mostly I need to forgive myself for not being perfect.