Scattered Update… An Alcoholic is Always an Alcoholic

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Truth is, I have been struggling (still). I don’t know if it’s my thyroid (I just started meds for it) or the hydroxyzine that my psychiatrist put me on, but I’m just sleeping … Continue reading

Learning and Growing with Every New Day

From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

“…self-seeking…”

“…self-centered, egocentric…”

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”

“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”

“We had to have God’s help.

“First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”

“He is the Father, and we are His children.”

We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me.  I have been stuck in this for a long time.  I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity.  I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.

I posted this on Sunday:

“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”

While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me.  This is self-centered.  I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.

I want people to see me as strong.  I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest.  I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered.  I want people to see my love for others.  I want to be known for my love for Jesus.  My identity is in Jesus first and foremost.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving.  Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health.  I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature.  It was perfect.  I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority.  It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it.  My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking.  So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and the perfect temperature.

I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight.  I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate.  This is not healthy.  I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it.  I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious.  It’s not something I have to keep up with every day.  And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.

The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.

Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books).  She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another.  Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.

Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake.  She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat.  She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water).  She thinks I have a habit to the process.  Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things.  It’s an emotional crutch.  She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.

We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch.  The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos.  Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese.  It keeps me comfortable until lunch.  Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal.  I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.

The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am.  She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years.  My body is trying to find it’s set point.  Where it’s supposed to be without dieting.  I may end up losing weight eventually.  But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.

The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.

I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind.  Robert did everything but push me out the door.

We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion.  It was really great!  From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house.  I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability.  I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!

We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!

I started it as soon as we finished!

This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering.  It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to.  The good news is that it says “for a little while.”  That’s hopeful!

 

So… through struggle comes strength and growth.

Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am,  my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!

Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.

Happy Monday!

happy-monday-beautiful-day

I’m going to try really hard to make this a beautiful day!  Today is my town day which brings anxiety (I’m not a huge fan of doing a lot in one day).  I will be meeting with my sponsor (at IHOP), going to women’s AA, and going to counseling and doing EMDR.  I’m so nervous about EMDR after last week.  It affected me for days afterwards.

The plan today is to come home and go to sleep.  Robert is off so he will be picking up the kids.  He will also be making dinner.  Everything is prepped for him.  Tonight’s dinner is meat sauce, pasta, and steamed broccoli.  Easy peasy!

I hope that by resting tonight I will make the rest of the week great!

So I guess it’s a happy Monday because I can take good care of myself!

Tomorrow through Thursday will be busy!  Every one of those days I will be in Rocksprings for the afternoon/evening because of basketball and choir.  Tomorrow night we have a baby shower here at camp.  I need to get lots of rest today because of all of this!

I hope your Monday is happy and wonderful and beautiful!  What are your plans for today?  What will you do to take good care of yourself?

 

Grati-Tuesday, February 21st

I woke up at 5:15 this morning feeling such peace.  This is a new thing (the past few months).  I love getting up early, making my bed, getting dressed, tidying the house, making coffee, lighting a candle, then waking the … Continue reading

When I Realized I Was an Alcoholic… There is a Solution

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You would think that the decision to go to a treatment center for my alcohol use would mean that I was willing to admit I was an alcoholic.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

For several days, every single time I woke up, I would think “Why in the world am I here?  What am I doing?”  I didn’t feel that I belonged.  I felt that I was somehow different than the people around me.  I mean, I didn’t drink a bottle of vodka a day.  I didn’t even drink every single day.  I could quit for a time (a few weeks).  Surely I’m not really an alcoholic.

It took a lot of explanation from the addiction doctor for me to understand.  AND reading the Big Book, the AA meetings, Big Book meetings, meeting with the Big Book teacher, etc.  It took a while for me to come to terms with it (which is step 1).

Some quotes from the Big Book that helped me understand:

“Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it.  They can take it or leave it alone.”

“But what about the real alcoholic?  He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.”

“Once in a while he may tell the truth.  And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have.  Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time.  But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it.  Once this malady has a real hold, they are baffled a lot.  There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game.  But they often suspect they are down for the count.”

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice to drink.  Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink.”

“If you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably an alcoholic.”

This last quote specifically is when I realized I was an alcoholic.  I’ve been able to quit for a few weeks at a time, but I have never been able to stay that way.  I always pick it right back up and drink more than before.  Also, when I start drinking, I don’t stop until I run out.  I would drink all the beer that Robert wouldn’t drink.  I would buy beer, come home before Robert did, and drink it all before he got home (being drunk by the time he got home at 5 or 5:30).  I would drink 12-15 beers at a time some times.  If I had rum or vodka, I always started in the morning, not long after I woke up.  Well, even beer… I mean, I rarely had any beer left for the next morning.  But if I did, I would start early.  Again, this wasn’t every day, but it was often enough (4-5 times a week… sometimes more).  This has been going on for several years and had just gotten worse over time.

Then… I got out of La Ha and met with my counselor as soon as I got out.  She read to me the description of someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD).  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says:

“To assess whether you or loved one may have an AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?”

I literally had every single one of these.  So apparently I have severe AUD and didn’t know it!

The beautiful thing is, there is a solution!

The first thing I needed to do was find a sponsor.  I had one sponsor, then decided she wasn’t a good fit.  I’m so thankful that I went to a women’s meeting and found a new one!  She is amazing!

I talk to her every single day and tell her what I’m grateful for (minimum of 3 things, but I often tell up to 10).  I meet with her once a week.  I’m going through the twelve steps with her.

These are the twelve steps:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The most important thing is connecting with God every day through Bible study (at least for me) and prayer.  I am learning to meditate.  It’s been life changing!

Self care is also huge.  If I can’t focus on my self care, then I have more anxiety, which in turn, makes me want to drink.  So I have to be very careful to put that first.

I drive to AA 3 times a week.  Twice a week to women’s AA (Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions study) and once a week to the 720 Club Brown Bag group (joint men and women).

This is how I realized I am a true alcoholic, what AUD is, and what the solution is.  God is so good!

My Amazing Husband, Step 3 Prayer, Steps 6 & 7, Self Care

First of all, I just can’t get enough of our family pictures.  I have lots of favorites, but the one that keeps sticking out to me is the one of Robert and I.

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This shows the love that we have for one another.  He has been an amazing support through all of my difficult moments, including mental illness hospitalizations and addiction treatment.  He has also been so supportive of me outside of those treatments.  He helps me to see things that I don’t see on my own.  I’ve learned to accept what he has to say because he has my best interest at heart.  He loves me unconditionally.  I’m so grateful for him.

PAWS has me down a bit, still.  I’m very tired, sort of achy, feeling down, irritable, and still somewhat anxious.  It is getting better.  They say it only lasts a few days, so I’m hopeful.

I went to our women’s AA yesterday and was so encouraged.  On Wednesdays we read out of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book.

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Yesterday was Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I realized that I haven’t been doing this.  I went through step 3 pretty quickly.  I need to go back and memorize this prayer:

“God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
Amen”

My next step with my sponsor is to do step 6 (which is a chart, breaking down my character defects), and to memorize the step 7 prayer:

“My Creator,
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character
which stands in the way of my usefulness to you
and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.
Amen.”

At rehab we had something called Seekers every morning.  It was a way to practice step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Every morning, we would have 10 minutes and prayer and meditation, we would read the step 3 and step 7 prayers, and we would sing Amazing Grace.  I plan to add back in the 10 minutes of prayer and meditation and step 3 & 7 prayers again.  It is a great way to start the day!  I will also continue my She Reads Truth Bible study!  Starting in January, a friend of mine here at camp and I will be doing a 1 Peter Bible study!  Looking forward to it!

Today for self care I will: 1) Eat a healthy breakfast, 2) Eat a healthy lunch, 3) Enjoy my coffee and Bible study (and do my morning prayer), 4) Meet with some friends here for encouragement, 5) Clean up the house (just vacuum, make my bed, and do the dishes… nothing major), 6) Shower, put on makeup, and dry my hair, 7) Listen to classical Christmas music, 8) Do a new meditation 9) Take my supplements and medications, 10) Share my gratefuls with my sponsor.

The meditation: Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take a few moments here then allow your focus to broaden to your body and the sensations that it’s feeling. Now expand your focus to anything touching your body, noticing those sensations. Lastly, expand your awareness to everything you can hear and sense. Now reverse this process and come back, one step at a time to your breath.

Even on the hard days, life is good.  I’m so thankful for another day sober (64 today!).

Step 4, Step 5, and My Character Defects

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(Photo credit, Matt Vaughn.  Camp Eagle and Nueces River)

I mentioned yesterday that I met with my sponsor to do my fifth step (reading my fourth step to her).  She was here for 5  hours.  About 30 minutes of that was eating lunch, but the rest was doing my fifth step.  It was amazing!!

I learned so much about myself.  The “character defects” we came up with are pride (BIG one), fear, doubt, envy, impatience, justification, intolerance, control and impulsiveness.

Now the goal is to work through these defects and work on overcoming them!

For obvious reasons, I’m not going to talk a lot about my fourth step on my blog… but I’ll share a few things that I learned about my character defects.

The biggest thing is pride.  I care WAY too much about what people think of me… I care too much about others’ opinions of me… and if someone says anything negative about me, it greatly affects me.

Two other big ones that kind of work together are justification and intolerance.  This surprised me.  I always thought of myself as a non-judgmental and tolerant person.  I always thought I loved others just as they are.  But there are a few individuals that I have been intolerant of, and I try to justify it.  I’m going to have to learn to let some things go that bother me that shouldn’t.

That brings me to another BIG one… control.  I try to control everything.  I want to control others, and if I can’t, it deeply affects me.  Others’ decisions (if they aren’t great or if they aren’t what I think they should do) affects me.  Deeply.  I want to be able to control my kids, my husband, the outcome of situations, my friends, my parents… the list could go on and on.

As I mentioned in my list, there are more.  But these are the ones that affect me (and others) the most.

Changing these character defects is going to be a long process.  But I know that many of these cause me anxiety (pride, intolerance, control, fear, etc).

I’m looking forward to the work that is coming up.  It’s hard work, but it’s good work. AA is an amazing program.  I am so glad that I’m part of it.

I was thinking last night that being part of AA and eventually becoming a sponsor is almost better than becoming a counselor.  I will be able to truly affect others’ lives as I meet with them weekly, talk with them daily, and go through the twelve steps with them.  AA has changed my life (and my sponsor is so amazing)!  I want to do be this for others.  The twelfth step is to carry the message to other alcoholics.

I keep thinking I want to learn more, I want to grow.  I can do that by studying more about AA, the Big Book, and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book.  I can also learn more about addiction, alcoholism, and mental illnesses that often accompany these.  Things are just beginning for me.

I have full trust that God is going to use me and be glorified through my work with AA (I love that God is throughout the whole Big Book!).

Beautifully in Over My Head

In Over My Head

I have come to this place in my life
I’m full but I’ve not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
And I can feel it my heart is convinced
I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to

I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
And I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind

Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in
Let love come teach me who You are again
Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to

And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Then you crash over me, and that’s where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head

Gosh.  This is one of my favorite songs, and I feel that it is more relevant now than ever.  This song was in my head most of the time I was at La Hacienda (as well as another song… that will come).  I have stepped out of my comfort zone more than I ever have.  I’ve stepped off the shore into the unknown.  He has been there from day one, and I feel his presence more than I have in a long time.  I am beautifully in over my head right now as I do step work, share about my addiction and sobriety, continue to share about my mental illness… and most of all, living with these.  I wouldn’t say it takes a strong person to live with these because I am not strong in my own power.  I am strong because God gives me the strength each and every day.  And He has led me to different ways to overcome.  The most important thing is that I am worshipping Him, spending time in His Word, and praying to Him every day.  Without Him I am nothing.

I will definitely serve God through becoming a sponsor through AA eventually (once I get through the 12 steps myself), but I don’t know if that’s enough.

I feel that God has allowed me to have mental illness and alcohol addiction for a reason and a purpose… to help others and to glorify Him.

I am currently praying about going back to school… either to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor or a mental health counselor. God has taught me so much about what I’ve gone through, and I want to serve Him in a way that brings Him glory and brings other people to a place that I am at right now! Free from alcohol/addiction, free in my mental illness… all because of the resources He has sent my way. I don’t know if my mental illness will allow me to work, and I’m currently working with a lawyer to get disability because of my work history. But I’m not sure if my time in the work force is over. I think I can work part time. We’ll see! Robert is all for it if I think I can handle it.

I feel that God will use the suffering that I have gone through to glorify himself.  He has a plan for it!

“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or fallen man. Every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t if it was cancer or critiscim. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something. It’s not meaningless. Course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you got cancer at 40; when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out. Don’t say “it’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, do not lose heart. Take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach His word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for!” John Piper

I have been through a lot in my life. I have been through the gruesome suicide of my brother. Postpartum depression and anxiety. I have been diagnosed with bipolar 2 and severe anxiety with general, panic, obsessive/compulsive, and social. Alcohol addiction. Hospitalizations (inpatient and outpatient), treatment center for alcohol, and lots of doctors appointments and counseling appointments over the years. I have had many suicidal ideations myself. Life has been difficult, but I am finally in a place in which I am free (one day at a time!), and I want to share that with the world through service!

Please be in prayer with me as I make a decision.  It may be a while, but I will keep praying until I feel at peace with a decision.