- The state Al-Anon convention was a great experience. The speakers were inspiring. One workshop was exceptional. These conventions are run like those in AA with speaker meetings and workshops going throughout the day. We have several raffles which are fun. Each group brings a basket filled with all kinds of things. One of the groups I attend did a dog theme basket. There is also a general meeting theme, and this year's take home message was service. I came away with wanting to do more service work. Thinking about starting an Alateen meeting on the nearby island and a downtown meeting at the city hospital (only one downtown meeting now). I actually contemplated putting my name in for the District Representative, but decided that the time spent on the road to the state capital would be more than I could bear for three years. Made that road trip too many times in my career. So I sent in a resume to be on the regional literature board. Do more, get more.
- The anniversary of Mom's death was Feb. 27. The day passed quietly on the boat as I thought about the feelings of grief we had last year. It seemed at the time that we would never feel good again because everything was so overwhelming. Pop was sick. We were grieving. The house needed to be sold. So much all at once. I'm glad to have moved past that difficult time. She isn't forgotten, but the acuteness of the grief is gone. We can look back and take comfort that Mom lived a long life, and we have the memories of her to smile about.
- The birthday of my cousin who died last June from glioblastoma multiforme is tomorrow. His wife has moved on with her life, reconnecting with old lovers from her past. I'm glad for her because she had no life for the 8 years that she cared for my cousin. She has also been caring for her 96 year old mother for years, but she has finally decided to move back to her country home in Virginia and has told her sister that she can no longer be the caretaker for their mother. Sounds to me like she is now taking care of herself.
- Landscaping has been moving slowly with the weather. It's either rainy or miserably cold. So the back yard is all torn up. The birds are going crazy with feeding and mating. Male cardinals are seeing their reflection in the glass and flying into windows all day trying to drive off a competitor. We call them the "crazy cardinals" because they seem to not get that there isn't another male.
- Speaking of crazy, the town is all fired up over a new reality TV program called "Southern Charm" that stars a bunch of characters that live the high life in the old city. One of them, Thomas Ravenel, was the state Treasurer until he was indicted and convicted of cocaine possession. Now he spends time playing polo and living the life of a wealthy bachelor. I wish that some of the intellectuals of the city had been featured, but I suppose people would much rather watch a train wreck than learn something about the train.
- I have come down with a cold and am generally feeling lousy. This too shall pass. In the meantime, I am drinking hot tea and not doing much on these rainy chilly days. I did build a fire yesterday which pumped out heat. And I took a nap on the couch.
- Last night, I chaired the Al-Anon meeting. It was on Step Three--Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. I don't think of my Higher Power as being a male or female but rather something greater than me. I am not religious, but I believe in the spiritual connectedness we have to each other, animals and Earth. A lot of people in meetings are religious and take comfort in religion. I think that is good. It took me a while to come to believe in something other than myself. I share honestly about my struggles with finding a Higher Power--at first, it was the group, then my sponsor and eventually, it was a feeling of freedom and release, of empathy and compassion, and connectedness to others.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I received an email from Rachel and asked her if she was interested in sharing her story here. She sent the following about her experience with drinking. I am sure she would welcome your comments.
Banishing the Booze. By Rachel Black
I don’t drink. Never. Not at all. None. One year ago things were very different. As a professional woman it was normal to unwind with a glass or two of wine in the evening. Precious ‘Me Time’ equated to ‘Wine Time’. Very quickly, wine o’clock arrived earlier and earlier, the quantity consumed gradually increased, the second bottle was opened. Drinking crept under the radar to invade my life. Very quickly the couple of glasses that started as a treat, became a coping mechanism for the stresses of daily life, and latterly, became a need. I thought alcohol was the solution, rather than the cause of my problems. The worse things got, the more I drank.
I don’t know if I am an alcoholic but my drinking was certainly problematic and I accept I had a psychological dependence on it. This was not always the case: my relationship with alcohol was typical of my peers throughout High School, University and until I was around 30 years old. At that time things changed and I began to want and need more wine, more often. If I was not drinking I was certainly thinking about drinking. I don’t know how this started but I do believe I have inherited a pre-disposition to alcoholic tendencies from both parents.
Children grow up believing the ways of their family is the norm; it is all we know. I was no different and grew up unaware of the significance of alcohol in our home. I watched my parents laugh and joke over who had had more than their share from the bottle. I remember other couples coming round for a boozy evening: I would be up early and alone the next morning and would wash, dry and put away every glass we owned, making the kitchen neat and tidy for my parents. I was never aware of them being hungover, or never recognised it as such, my father was always strict, irritable, easily aggravated and had little time for us. My mother was better and I was surprised when she announced mid 50’s that she was becoming tee-total. She continues to cite ‘health reasons’ for this change and will change the subject whenever the conversation moves towards asking why. Only when I saw my life was following a path I recognised from my father, did I see the problems they both had, for now they were occurring in my life. My father continues to drink excessively each day and I knew I did not want to become like him and decided I had to change.
After a few years of trying and failing to moderate the amount I drank, I decided to take the path of my mother and to give up alcohol completely. I thought this would be all about doing without and deprivation. I resigned myself to a life of straight-laced misery, missing out on all the fun. I did not consider what I would gain when alcohol was removed from my life.
One of the biggest differences is time. I have loads of time, in the evenings and in my head. My evenings are not truncated at 6pm, my productivity disappearing with each glass, I can concentrate to do online banking and sensible shopping. I have started a Spanish class as I am no longer reluctant to drive. My brain kicked back to life and I started to write and published my first book: Sober is the New Black.
My head is no longer pre-occupied with drinking. No planning nights out and organising taxis, no buying wine or suffering monster hungovers the following day which render me fit for nothing until they pass.
Life seems so much simpler and relaxed now. There is no rush to get to wine time. There is no anxiety if things run late. Life just happens.
18 months ago I was making my family miserable with my constant irritability, antagonism and over-reaction. I was ‘stressed’ about everything from making packed lunches to putting up the Christmas tree. Now I am calm, measured, pleasant. My moods are appropriate. I am a better wife, a better colleague and a good mother who happily drives her kids to clubs and has time for a chat at bedtime. They will not see me drinking wine nor see me drunk and I hope I can be happy and believe I have set them the best example I can possibly give.
I need to continually remind myself that my life is now as good as it always looked on paper only because I continue to choose not to drink. I was so reluctant to give alcohol up, worried I would miss all the fun, scared of words like ‘forever’ yet here I am, relieved to be free from the clutches of alcohol, knowing I need never drink again. Why would you?
Contact me: email@example.com
Follow my blog: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @SoberRachel
Sober is the New Black is available on Amazon:
SOBER IS THE NEW BLACK is being price slashed on an Amazon countdown deal from wednesday 26th Feb-Sat 1st March.
I am on the boat for a few days. Next post, I'll tell you about the State Al-Anon Convention.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
Her goal is to go to college and then nursing school. She has overcome so much in her short life. If you can donate a few dollars towards helping her achieve her goal, it would be much appreciated.
My wife and I know her family. I can tell you that they are wonderful people. And they are appreciative of being in this country. If you have any questions, email me. Thank you!
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
Over the last week, we have had the freeze, then the thaw with great chunks of ice falling from the trees. One of the main bridges to the town where I keep my boat was closed due to icing. Once it was opened, I was able to travel to the boat to make sure all was okay. I listened to the ice fall from the rigging to the deck. And the bridge was closed again because ice was falling from 200 feet and crashing through car windshields.
I am meeting up with a fellow I sponsored for about a year and a half tomorrow. He emailed me a couple of days ago saying that he wanted to meet because he been withholding some feelings, which doesn't seem fair or honest. He doesn't want to "drop a bomb" on me, and would like to be positive and work it out, if I will hear him out. I'm not at all sure what this is about. I called and left a message for him to call me, but he hasn't done that and continues to text me about when to get together. I somehow feel that a bomb will be dropped but will hear him out. And I will look at my part in whatever is bothering him. I'm keeping a positive feeling about this as he and I have had a close relationship in the past.
The new fellow that I am working with seems to be hanging on to a lot of self-pity, but we are moving on in our step work. I know where he is coming from because I have felt wronged and discarded many times. We are moving forward in a positive direction though.
Lastly, I felt a lot of sadness about the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose. The disease is waiting and doesn't seem to take a day off. Such a sad ending for anyone.
Hope all of you are doing well. I can't seem to get much time as I would like to visit blogs and comment. Hope to make up for that this week, although I will be on the boat from Wednesday through Friday.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014
I had a happy week on the sailboat, doing the usual things that I like to do in spite of the chilly weather. I also had a good day yesterday, rowing to one of the popular creeks in the area, meeting up with some old friends at a restaurant along the creek, having lunch and then rowing back up the creek to the landing. It was a good row, not too vigorous but just enough to get the heart pumping aerobically. Working my arm muscles on the oars and having people wave as I went past. It was a good time.
But today has found me feeling anxious and nostalgic for being young again. A song came on the radio the other day, and I actually could feel myself being transported back to my 20's and that feeling of having a long life ahead--the invincibility and joy of something new every day. I felt it right there in my mind and spirit, and it seemed so real.
And now I have all the things that I could possibly need, but my body feels tired after several hours of physically working, and the aches remind me that the clock is ticking away my life--counting down the minutes and hours towards oblivion.
This is depressing writing, and most likely, a lot of my feelings here will be gone in a few hours. I hope so, at least. I'm going to a meeting tonight, forcing myself not to isolate and stay home. And if I wake up tomorrow feeling sad, I'll go for a run/walk on the dirt road. I'll stir up some endorphins and hope for the best.
But right now, I feel like crawling in a hole and curling up.
“When you're young, you always feel that life hasn't yet begun—that "life" is always scheduled to begin next week, next month, next year, after the holidays—whenever. But then suddenly you're old and the scheduled life didn't arrive. You find yourself asking, 'Well then, exactly what was it I was having—that interlude—the scrambly madness—all that time I had before?” ~Douglas Coupland
Saturday, January 4, 2014
We have gotten some good photos of birds at the feeders and the little masked bandits that come up in the wee hours to eat seeds. I'm hoping that we will get to see some other animals like opossum and maybe wild turkeys because there are hundreds of the latter on the property. It has been fun to look at the antics of the squirrels and raccoons. It's the wilds out here on the island so all kinds of critters could wander by. I doubt if we will see the bobcats or coyote unless we put out some kind of meat for them.
Nothing dramatic is going on. I have no urgent items that I have to write about. I am utterly content in my rather boring life at the moment.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I can hope though. And I surely hope that 2014 will be good, because in so many ways this past year was difficult. There is nothing to do but improve on last year. As they say, there is no where to go but up.
I realize that I can make the most of every day, even though they seem to be slipping away from me at an alarming rate. I can't make the days slow down or the minutes of our lives stop ticking away. And each day gone is a day that I can't get back.
Sometimes I think about all the time that I spent being unhappy and filled with self-pity--feeling sorry for myself because of so many years spent with alcoholics, time spent worrying about someone else, days spent wishing I were someone else. The sad litany of a person out of sorts with themselves--adrift and basically unconscious about so much.
I feel less out of sorts these days. I am able to bounce back from disappointments and despair a lot quicker than I once did. But I still have my moments of sadness and a feeling of unease when the disease of alcoholism comes through at the most unexpected moments. I still think about what life would have been like if there had been no alcoholism around me. The "what ifs" are a dead end street. The past can't be redone, but I don't have to keep living in it and repeating it.
So on this last day of 2013, I am going to look at it as another day to do the next right thing. It isn't a special day because it's New Year's Eve, but one like any other in which I can choose to move forward, say a kind word to others, and practice the principles of love and acceptance. If I can do that every day, then there is nothing to fear in seeing one year gone and another beginning.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
We are going to have our Christmas dinner in the dining room--just the two of us with candles lit. And unbelievably, I'm not sad. We both have accepted that it's a much better day this year because none of our family is sick and suffering. So it will be a day to relax and enjoy being together.
I don't have any great expectations for Christmas other than I don't want it to be just another day. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking of those who have left us; those who have survived and may be alone; those who are without families where Christmas is just another day; as well as those who are impoverished; suffering; dying or in distress. I know that we are grateful to have gotten through a lot of the tribulations and have some much needed down time.
We had decided to not give each other presents, but I had to get my wife a gift. So I bought her a wireless bird cam so she can watch all the animals that come to the feeders. And I got her a few things for her stocking too. The greatest gift though is our love for each other. It has endured and grown over the years. I am more than grateful for that.
I'll be thinking of you, my blogger friends, tomorrow. I haven't gotten around to all the blogs recently. I stay busy with life. But here's a virtual Merry Christmas filled with love to each of you.