Friday, December 31, 2010


A new year is almost upon us again. It seems like the older I get, the faster these things happen. I remember being in the 3rd grade and waiting for Christmas vacation... When I was younger, that 2 weeks off of school felt like forever. We'd play with our new toys, go sledding, drink hot cocoa. I even remember hanging our snow soaked hats, scarves, mittens, and wool socks over the cast iron heater. I have such vivid memories, it must have been the cold weather.

As I get older, vivid memories like that seem to happen less and less. Day, weeks, months fly by. Most of the time I can't remember what I did yesterday or what I even had for breakfast today. Life feels like it's flying by me lately and I don't like it. I want to remember the things I do, people I see, places I go. I want each moment to be special.

So, with that said, I'm going to try to make an effort to have time for it. Sit back and smell the roses, or something to that effect. I really need to practice my "mindful" behaviors again. Focusing on the very moment and taking each small thing in. Breathing. Watching. Listening. I've been so overwhelmed in the last few months that I've become a terrible listener. I'm not even sure what I talk about on the phone because I'm always doing something else at the same time. Cooking dinner, driving, working. It's got to change. I'm not committing to a New Year's resolution or anything, with my committment issues and all, but I am going to make a conscious effort to attempt to change my ways.

Tomorrow is the last day of 2010 which means it's the last day for me to finish my amends. I've agreed to have them done by the end of this year and I've got one day to go. Nothing like cutting it down to the wire! I'm the kind of person who needs an assigment and a deadline. Procrastination at it's best. Either way, I'm going to follow through on this one and start the new year out properly with a new attitude and a new direction.

Christmas was excellent this year! My parents got me a Littman stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer (blood presure cuff) in preparation for Nursing school in February. I'm a blood pressure taking fool! I've always had such a hard time listening to the blood flow when I've done them and now I know why, and it's not all these strange piercings in my cartliage getting in the way like I always thought. Cheap stethoscopes! I can hear it all now! I'm really feeling good about things at this point. But getting anxious at the same time. So, to do my own preparing for school, I've bought a few books on anatomy & physiology to review. I've taken the classes a few years ago but I don't remember much, I was still drinking then. Since it's a tech school I'm going to, there is no adjusting the curriculum and repeating the course is just how it's going to be. I've got to do things their way, in their order, in their time. And I'm okay with that. Nothing like having a refresher course.

Anyway, it's late and I'm getting tired. I hope everyone has a wonderfully safe New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Tis the season

'Tis the season to be jolly!

I was reading my daily meditation book today and a sentence stuck out to me. It said, "Hanging onto a situation for which no solution is immediately apparent, only exaggerates the situation." What wisdom that is. Sometimes it's best to just sit back and let things go. Imagine that! What 3rd step wisdom, right there in front of me.

Which brings me to this. The old roommate situation. We were best friends and did everything together for most of our early recovery, but I don't think we were ever friends. Which left me with expectations. Ouch. Needless to say, in February when I moved in with my boyfriend, the relationship with her ended. Not immediately, though; a few weeks afterwards. I deleted her from FaceBook a few weeks before I moved because she was posting updates about me and they were spiteful and I was fed up and didn't want to read them anymore. A few weeks after I moved, when we were still texting here and there, she noticed I wasn't her friend anymore and that was the end of it. The straw that broke the camel's back, or something like that. She actually did me a huge favor and I just didn't know it at the time.

Realistically, I know that the friendship had ended long before that. She wasn't a good person and I was angry that she couldn't be the kind of friend I needed. I don't know why I ever expected her to treat me any different than all of the people she (we) sat and talked about behind their backs. Why am I any different? The answer to that is, I'm not. Plain and simple. People are who they are and without a desire to change, they're going to remain who they are. For me, I didn't like who I was and I wanted to become a better person; so I changed. Those old behaviors (which aren't always old) weren't working for me anymore and it was time to change. I can't say that I'm always changed because those character defects do come out from time to time, but I do make an effort to try to avoid their manifestation.

Which brings me to the second sentence that popped out to me in the reading, "It is often said that the solution to any problem lies within it." I was part of the problem and I can be part of the solution. I learned quite a few things from this old friendship. I learned how to be a nicer person, how not to treat people, how to treat people, and what kind of people I choose to have in my life. That's my solution with these relationships. I can step away at any point when something is seriously unhealthy for me. Unfortunately, it took me about 2 years to learn that. It seems like the longer the lesson, the more memorable it is.

After all, this is the season of forgiveness. It's going to begin with forgiving myself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's almost Christmas!

The last week has been hectic and at the same time, not. I hardly worked at all at my job, but I did other things. Christmas shopping alone feels like a job. It's a good thing I started in November this year! On Thursday and Friday I finished most of the shopping and I've got one more thing to pick up. Everything is wrapped and set up to be put in the car for our trip over to my Mom's on Friday.

Christmas this year is going to be a bit different now that my sister is back into the picture. I've gotten so used to all of the holidays and special occasions being just my boyfriend, my parents, and I. I've been praying that this year will be different from the past holidays that she's been at. Both, sober and in active addiction, she tends to be a drama queen, throw at least 2 crying tantrums, and (of course) everything is about her even when it's not. Gr. So, I'm getting it all out now, ironing out the wrinkles and putting positive energy into it. This year is going to be a differently-great holiday! I absolutely love Christmas and the entire holiday season and I'm determined to enjoy as much of it as I can.

Step work has just been nagging at me for the last few months. I'm working on making my amends and I'm finding it difficult (I'm convinced I'm unique). I know the people I need to make amends to, I know why... but, putting it into words and deciding how and when to do it are just weighing me down. Some have been made over time as I've come across people or run into them on facebook or whatever, but it's the super-personal-everyday ones that are grinding on me. I've got a deadline - December 31st. The final agreement, after many, that I've made with my sponsor.

So, that's all I've got for now. I've got to be up at 5:30 am for work tomorrow and I just don't do mornings. I wasn't made to be up before the sun, or any time even remotely near when the sun comes up. My Mom says that the sunrise and sunset are the most powerful times of the day and I should enjoy them both, but that's just never going to happen. At least not any time soon, anyway.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minor Meltdown

I'm having a minor meltdown today. My hours at work, which are never consistent because I do private home healthcare, have been cut from 67 hours at the beginning of this week to a mere 18 hours. Right before Christmas. To say the least, I'm stressed out. However, I do have faith that everything will work out, as it always does. My agency respects me and generally overloads me with hours for shifts. This one is out of their hands as it is a case where the other caregivers are self-employeed and don't work through an agency. A few weeks ago I had a boat load of hours, then no hours, then a boat load of hours. That darn family needs to make up their minds and figure things out. My bank account can't handle the big fat middle finger I've just been given.

So, I'm over my panic moment and back to where I need to be. I've been in these situations before and it always works out. I've been with my agency for 3 years now and they always come through even when it's at the very last minute. I'm reliable, I go in at the last minute, and I never call off. Now that I've had my few breaths, I'm okay. I had a 30 minute cry over it all and I'm back to having faith, like usual. Things work out the way they're supposed to work out and I know that.

I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED TO NURSING SCHOOL!!!! I called yesterday and they confirmed! The last time I was in the office the secretary said I could call on the 13th (the day they mail out the letters) and ask because once they mail out the letters it becomes putlic knowledge and they can officially confirm. So I did! I was shaking and so nervous and was going to just wait until the letter came in the mail, but, I couldn't so I called. I'm really excited and feel like my life finally has some definite direction. And, when you put in the hard work you tend to get positive results.

I remember what life before I got sober and I could have never jumped through these hoops. Two entrance exams, blood work, transcripts, immunizations, photos, background checks. It would have been half-assed and at the last moment when it all seemed too much, I would have given up. It just goes to show you how much a person can change, given the chance.

Well, I'm off to dinner with my sponsor, then to my homegroup, and after to meet a friend at a speaker meeting. I need it today.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Aniversary To Me!

This past Wednesday marked the celebration of my 4th year in sobriety. There was a time when I never thought I'd see this day happen. To be so supported by the friends I've made in recovery has brought forth a new swell of gratitude in my life. I was able to share the day with a few women from my homegroup as well as a few other people whom are very important to me. We all met up at Applebee's for a celebratory dinner. Just having those people show up proves to me that this program works even when you have doubts. No matter what, someone will be there to carry you when you can't carry yourself.

Last week my Mom came for a visit. She lives just over 2 hours away so it's convenient for her to come over and spend a day and night and then return home. We went to my sister's house and brought her along to dinner with us to celebrate my aniversary. Being able to spend time with her, without wanting to maim her, has been a renewed gift. She's still going to meetings and seems to be holding her own, but right now I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose that at some point people felt that way about me too. I really try to have compassion for her like I would for any newcomer but because it's so close to home it's a bit more difficult. I find myself wanting to ask her how the meetings were and how she's feeling and asking if she's found a sponsor yet... but I refrain. It's none of my damn business and I can't make her recovery into what I wish it would be. Normally, I would have jumped in to try to save the day and fix it all, but I'm learning how to let go and step back so things can happen the way they're supposed to happen. Much easier said than done, but I'm getting better with practice.

So, here I sit at work. It's almost 5 a.m. and I'm ready to go home to sleep, but I've got a few hours left. We were supposed to meet my bf's parents today for an early Christmas celebration but everyone seems to have forgotten that if we meet at noon I'll only have had 2 hours of sleep. So not fair. I've been working the night shift on the weekends for the better part of a year and a half now... so as far as I'm concerned - there aren't any excuses.

This is what happens when plans are made at the last minute and you become the after-thought. I don't mean me as the after-though, I mean my boyfriend. We live about 20 minutes from his parents and they make no effort to see him... Ok, I lied, they see him 3 times a year: Christmas, Easter, and whenever his sister comes to town with the new baby. They fly to another state to spend the holidays with his brother and sister and try to make plans with him at the very last minute. It really hurts him but he won't say anything. Right now, I know that all I can do is support him and make sure that my family treats him like family. This year, his parents passed his grandmother a birthday card for him and had her deliver it at work... They don't even think twice about it.

And this brings us to, yet again, another situation that is none of my business. It's totally out of my control and saying something will just make things worse and hurt people's feelings. Seems I'm receiving an awful lot of practice in this area lately! I'm going to assume it's not a coincidence!

Aaaaaaand, this is the week I find out whether or not I'm accepted into school. Part of me knows that I will, but the pessimistic part of me has doubts. I'm really not good at waiting, thankfully it's only a few more days. I should know by Wednesday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We Do Recover!

Ahhhh. What a great couple of days I've had! On Sunday, I took my sister grocery shopping, out to dinner, and to a meeting. She's been back out for a few years and every moment of it has been sad. But, it's also been a miracle. I'm thankful that I could learn a few lessons vicariously through her and not destroy my life in the meantime. I'm also thankful to know that it doesn't get any better when you go back out. Not that I didn't know it to begin with, but it's definitely something that has been proven time and again by others.

Being able to do things for her, like she did for me when I was in early recovery, makes me feel really good. Not only am I helping my family, but I'm also giving back help that was given to me with no strings attached. Seeing her begin to climb back out of the hole she has created is a blessing; and being able to be a part of that is a miracle.

On another note... Each wednesday for the last 4 years I've attended an after-care group at the treatment facility where I did my inpatient treatment. Basically, we sit around (with a counselor) and discuss our issues in recovery and talk with the people who are just finishing up the 28 day program about any issues, questions, or concerns they may have. This week an unusual topic was brought up by a former sponsee of mine. She said, "What happens when the pink cloud is gone and you're not happy with being sober anymore?"

Ummm, Huh? I have always understood the whole theory behind the concept of the pink cloud - happy to be sober, waking up feeling good, worries behind you, nothing can hold you down, no bad will happen now... But, I can't recall ever feeling that way. When I got clean and sober, I felt like shit. I was withdrawing from benzo's and had slight tardive disknesia from some medication to help with all of the mood swings. I've always understood that life will always happen and that just because I've rung the bell and decided to clean up my act, that life will still happen just the was it is supposed to. Bills will need to be paid, people will be angry with me sometimes, some will die. Never did I have that euphoric feeling of everything being all rainbows and butterfiles. Don't get me wrong, I was happy with life; but I never had the idea in my head that life was going to work out perfectly and that all my problems would disappear.

I really had to take a step back after hearing her say that. Perhaps it's because of "who" said it, but I'd like to believe that I'd have this response no matter who would say it.

Each and every day that I'm clean and sober, I'm grateful that another miracle has occured. Being able to stay around and hear things like, "Don't leave 5 minutes before the miracle happens" makes me realize that this really is the life for me. I finally fit in. I'm finally part of something biggern than myself. I'm finally the person I was meant to be. It truly saddens me to hear that someone thinks the other path of misery, guilt, and shame is a better way to live. Deep down I know it's a misconception. I know it's that part of the disease that never totally disappears that you need to battle every day. I know it's the easy way out. I decided 4 years ago that I wasn't going to take the easy way out anymore, that I'd choose to do the right thing instead even if it was difficult.

Every day I choose to stay sober. I choose to treat people as kindly as I'm capable of. I choose to go to a meeting. I choose to go to work. I choose to pray. I choose to call my sponsor. I know that there will always be an alternative and that as long as I'm willing to do what is right above all else, that I'll be living a good life.

To end for the night, a counselor I once had always asked a trick question. "What is the reward for living a good life?" And the answer is, "A good life."