Practicing Gratefulness

Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.- Barry Neil Kaufman

When you have destroyed your life to the point of what you think is unrepairable, where do you go? How do you even begin? What steps do you begin to take? Desperation drove me to do ‘whatever’ was suggested is my story. Even making gratitude lists!!! I’ve heard of these, what I would have referred to in the past, “stupid lists” since I arrived at AA in 2004. But never would I have thought these fluffy, psychobabble, silly things would be helpful. I’ve been such a cynic. I have called myself a realist, but in truth I have been a pessimist. I prepared for the worst because it WAS coming, nothing good was coming….. that happened to other people.

So when my sponsor suggested that I make a daily list and send it to her and she’d send me hers, in this new journey in sobriety…..I could have rolled my eyes all the way down the street. I was so damn annoyed!!! But when you are as beat as I was… you just do it anyway. Her lists were nothing short of amazing and wonder. Mine, on the other hand, coffee, my astringent (they were afraid I was gonna drink the crap in rehab so I just got it back), my pillow, and talking to my son. At least I could see something.

But it did get better, I got better. Lots of stuff happened and that would be entirely too dang long for this particular blog but I began to see things. I began to actually look for things throughout the day to be grateful for. A call from a friend. A beautiful sunset. A day without a migraine. A patient not cussing me out or hitting me (I worked in a fully locked unit so let’s just say my patients were a trip and sometimes I was the ride). A day without a fight with my husband. God’s grace. Becoming conscious of His Power, hell becoming conscious. My eyes were beginning to open to the wonder of life through the eyes of gratitude, from these little lists. That’s not all of course but I do believe now in hindsight they were a game changer for me.

Then the bottom dropped out about the time I thought I was catching my stride. After a month and half of inpatient rehab and 5 1/2 months in sober living I was going to move back home closer to my son and husband but into my own apartment. But like I said, what do you do when you have damaged your life beyond repair? What happened to me is I was handed divorce papers. I was heart broken. But I changed nothing in my daily routine. I continued to pray, meditate, talk to others that I trusted and most of all I continued to look for things everyday to be grateful for. Just like the quote says, “no matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something to be grateful for”.

I became grateful for God’s plan for my life. That all I had to ‘do’ was the moment that I was actually ‘doing’ at the present second, and knew that I could handle that. I couldn’t possibly handle everything I was going through, so I just didn’t. I just breathed it out. I focused on just what was good. Not what I messed up, not what I could no longer fix, not what I could have done differently in the past, not what was going to happen in the future, not what I wanted or thought I needed…… I focused on the moment I was in, mindfulness and being grateful. Grateful for everything that I had been through, the lessons I had learned, the mistakes I had made and the truth I had learned from them, the memories that we had shared good and bad because that energy was always and forever expended between the two of us, for who holds the future because it is far better off in His hands that it would ever be in mine. There were dark moments, sad moments, hard moments, and painful moments but they were all temporary although they didn’t ‘feel’ that way at the time.

“No matter how hard you try, you cannot get rid of darkness because it does not exist. It is nothing but the absence of light. In order to effect darkness you must do something with light, because the light is the only thing that actually exists.” -Teal

Developing the practice of gratitude in my daily life, for me, was one of the many things that brought light into my darkness. Not just the list though, that’s way too simple. Being grateful for something is more than just an attitude towards something, it takes action, awareness, care, concern, compassion, responsibility, respect, attentiveness….. get my drift??? It has paid huge dividends for me by bringing light into my darkness. I had no idea that gratitude could be such a game changer or at least it has been for me. It has immensely helped me and 4 months later after I thought I might just die without “him” I am once again whole. Completely grateful for the entire journey and hopeful for what is to come.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude. – A.A. Milne

Drunk Dialies

Have you ever been guilty of drunk dialies? I sure have….. more than I care to admit! This should clue you in a little on my age of sobriety! Notice I didn’t say drunk texting or drunk posting on Facebook or Twitter. Drunk posting probably even has some cool name in the Urban Dictionary.

Kinda like Pregame:
n. To drink before going to a party. This most often happens because they party where you are going to will be carding and you are under or because you want to drink something hard to start your night off. Often pregaming happens at the house and involves taking shots.

See back in my drinking days, this didn’t have some-sort of cool name, it was just drinking. Most of the time to save money, in my case, because I have never been a cheap drunk. So drinking at the bar was very expensive for me or for whoever was buying my drinks (usually some poor fool who thought I was interested in more than just lightening my financial load). I digress….

I would somehow get home from the bar, I blacked out a lot so it was rare for me to know how that happened at times. Apparently, due to said blackouts, I had no recollection of the phone calls I would make at 2, 3, 4, in the morning. I would pick up my phone, after I “came to”. I was most often panic-stricken due to the amount of blackouts I had. I never knew where I was going to wake up, how I got there, who would be with me or not with me for that matter. I would eventually get around to checking my phone and find that I called any number of people. It was often some old boyfriend or guy I dated(I use that term very loosely) or perhaps my ex-husband. I would never remember what we talked about when I looked at the length of the call or what kind of craziness I left on their voicemail.

I needed someone to take my phone from me when I started drinking, but that was NEVER gonna happen!

So I have been downloading new songs from iTunes, more appropriately, new songs to me or new to own. I was listening to the lyrics of “Should’ve Gone to Bed” by Plain White T’s. Best song about drunk dailies I have heard to date! Here’s a sample:

All day long I’m over you
Never really think of you
I keep you out of my head
But some nights when I’m striking out
You’re all I can think about
Just gotta have you again

So I down my cup
And then I hit you up
Saying way too much

Oh, I should’ve just gone to bed
I should’ve never called you
I should’ve listened to my head
When it said leave it alone
No, a few drinks in
Here I go missing you again
God only knows what I said
I should’ve just gone to bed

I should’ve turned the lights out
I should’ve called it a night
You should’ve never picked up my phone call
If you’re not sleeping here tonight

LOVE THIS! Brings back memories! Not fond ones but memories, nonetheless!


AA haters

I’ve been pretty open and honest that I am an alcoholic and that Alcoholics Anonymous has been the avenue that I have used to achieve 8 years sober. I am sober by God’s grace, that is my belief. I have put a lot of effort, action, and change in my life for that to be a reality. I am in no way the poster child for AA. I have found something that works for me and it works quite well.

I have enjoyed reading blogs about AA, sobriety, alcoholism, addiction, recovery, and a few other topics. Some from people that are sober, some not, and some trying to figure out if they should be or not. I relate to some people a lot and some not so much. I have also found some that have, apparently, made it their life’s work to discredit Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole due to their bad experience, someone who they know who had a bad experience, or because they think they know what we AA is about. Those probably amuse me the most.

They say AA is a cult or that they brain wash people. To be honest, my brain needed some washing! They mention that we are a hoax and that we force people do to this or that. They state we have a less that 5% success rate (if that is the case than I am one lucky girl! HAHA!). They believe that we shove God down people’s throats and or our own religion on them. I could go on but all of this is such a load of crap that I will stop there.

“Prejudice is a great timesaver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” – Bertrand Russel

Funny thing about people these days and the internet….. they believe everything they read good or bad, true or false. If you believe everything you see on Facebook or on chain letter emails…. you are an idiot! Check out next time you forward some crap you believe to be true. When people have made up their mind about something, whether it is true or false, their minds are closed like Fort Knox. It’s like “don’t confuse me with the facts, I’ve already made up my mind.”

“Of alcoholics who came to AA and REALLY TRIED, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with AA showed improvement.” Big Book page xx

This statement was written in 1955. Lots has changed in the world since then but I think the kicker in that quote is REALLY TRIED. I’ve seen a whole lot of people come in and out of AA over the last 9 years and I see a lot who don’t do anything but come to a few meetings. In my experience that approach with AA does not work. Truth is if AA can help one person not die from alcoholism or addiction then that is SUCCESS! In 2010, I went to the 75th International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous in San Antonio, TX. I personally said the Serenity Prayer with 50,000 plus other alcoholics in the Astrodome, so i know it’s helped more than just me!

AA has taught me to be a woman of consideration. Meaning, when I hear or read something, instead of shutting myself off, I consider if it is truth for ME. This whole journey has helped me learn truth about myself. What are your truths? I have no clue! But I know what mine are!

What do I have to say to these AA haters? Get a damn life! I have one that works for me and it doesn’t include forcing others to believe what I believe. There are plenty of other avenues to go through to get sober. My hope is that all those that are trying to get sober find what works for them, AA or not! Living in the endless spiral of self-destruction, unhappiness, hatred for self and others, depression, anxiety, guilt, embarrassment, etc. that drug addiction and alcoholism bring in its wake…… Is NOT living! I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy or on those who hate AA with a passion!

Why can’t we all just get along? HAHA!

I Hate This Disease!

“As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did—then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen—Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand!…….He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.” excerpt from Big Book pages 151,152

I found out last night that this disease took yet another of my friends! Damnit!  I hear people say that sometimes others have to die so that we can stay sober and I just don’t subscribe to that. I believe that we all have a chance to live. Nobody else needs to die for me to stay sober. You can believe whatever you want…… If that is your truth then great! It simply is not mine.

It breaks my heart that this man is gone from this earth and the pain I know his family is going through! He was there in my early sobriety and you just don’t forget those people that make such an impact in your life when you are going through such an overhaul in the way you live. He was hilarious!!! Had a great sense of humor and could make anyone smile!

What a reminder of the seriousness of this disease I have! That it can take life at any moment! That I am truly on a life and death errand. That all this work that I do for my own sobriety that I bitch about and the service work that I do really does have a purpose if it helps just one person. The thing is, I don’t get to choose who that person is so I just have to keep saying “yes” just in case. Isn’t that what the responsibility statement asks of us? “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

My belief is that AA is not for people that need it because we’d have a 10% of the population as active members because that the estimated number of alcoholics there are (so I have heard…. I have never actually researched it myself). It’s not for people that want it either because I have been around scores of alcoholics that wanted to be sober and are not. The want what the program has to offer but wanting it alone is not sufficient to attain a spiritual experience. I believe AA is only successful for those who DO IT. I mean DO ALL OF IT! The steps, the meetings, sponsorship, service, the fellowship, inventory, prayer, meditation, sacrifice, love, tolerance, answer the phone, honesty, amends, etc. I fail! We all fail! But there is always a step and someone with experience with where we are at to help us get back on track and on the AA beam.

I pray everyday for the alcoholic who still suffers and sometimes the alcoholic who is suffering is sitting right next to me in my home group with a whole lot of days since their last drink.

Two Alternatives

Hump DAY! I love that Camel Commercial but even more so, I love the one with Dirk Nowitzki “Game Day!” I’m always grateful on Wednesdays for several reasons…1. Some meetings I attend 2. Only 2 more days left in the work week 3. Get to spend time with “my girls” 4. I get to be reminded how powerful God really is 5. It is in my face how small my bullshit problems really are! I really need this reminder because I can really build up the size of my “issues”! My mother calls this making mountains out of molehills and I am a master at that.

So I was rocking along at The Faith and at a whopping 42 days sober, them crazy people made me a house manager. They were nuts in the decision but at the time I was so puffed up with pride there was no way I was gonna turn it down. The Faith housed about 30 men and 15 men at capacity and there were 2 women house managers and 4 men house managers. Lucky me! I was somewhat made for the job in that I don’t take much bullshit from anyone. While drinking I took sport in picking fights with men, preferably twice my size. My mouth has a tendency to get me into LOTS of trouble! I digress…

There was a girl, we’ll call her Winter, that was planning to go out on her first pass for the weekend and she wasn’t too sure about it all. She had been in quite a bit of trouble with the courts and was doing bi-weekly visits with the judge and was not sure she was strong enough to go on pass. I gave her my number, told her we would come get her if she got shaky and of course, that she didn’t even have to go if she felt that it wasn’t a good idea. You know she went despite her better judgment! She didn’t return for curfew Sunday night and came back sometime Tuesday to get her stuff. I hugged her and told her she knew where to find us and that she could call at any time. That was the last I heard of Winter. We had been sober about the same amount of time.

Fast forward 8 months….. I finally was going to court for my “full house”. My lawyer and I were discussing some thangs before I went to meet the judge on what ended up to be a slap on the wrist. My original probation was just extended and never revoked. I received 2 years probation and they dropped all my drug charges! I was amazed! Winter’s name came up while my lawyer and I were talking. This look of pain and concern came over him. He asked if I had heard what happened with her. I told him of the last time I saw her when she left The Faith. He told me they had found her body two days ago stuffed in a duffel bag at the dump. They thought she had OD’d and she was 5 months pregnant. I cry even typing this. Sorrow and Gratitude!

The Big Book states on page 25……. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help.

I know when Winter left that day she did not believe that a duffel bag would be her bitter end. The only way I know how to honor her memory is to share her story. I will never forget the look in her eyes that Tuesday morning when she picked up her belongings and drove away! It haunts me to some extent. But in other ways it makes me SO very grateful I have continued to choose spiritual help!


Prayed to Jail

I was not too big on God when I got sober but I was kinda out of options! I thought I had “neatly evaded or entirely ignored” the God idea fairly well. I did this because I felt that if I prayed He might just know my location to send all the hell, fire, and whatever else I had coming. It’s not that I didn’t believe in God, I knew he was there.  Wherever “there” is. I distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom the night I got out of Jail for the last time where she was telling me that I just needed to pray and trust God blah, blah, blah….. I told her, ” that God shit may work for you, but it obviously DON”T work for me!” It’s not that I blamed Him or anything, I was just certain that after all that I had done there was absolutely no way that He would have any room or desire for me.

Then I end up at AA….. I may not be very quick but I am too damn smart at times! I saw that G-O-D in red on the wall in the 12 steps and knew these people had tricked me into another religious churchy group of some-sort. Well that was not the case at all! They told me I could choose my own conception of God, I didn’t tell them this at the time but I knew from what I had learned as a child in church that there were these things called sins. On the scheme of things, this choosing your own conception of God had to be a very BAD one!!!! Well I was so very wrong about that and about a lot of other things.

The feeling was that my life was over, but the actual truth was that it was just about to begin. I didn’t have anymore “good” ideas when I got to AA. When they told me to start praying for God to keep me sober in the morning I did it anyway even though I never thought it would work. Before too long I had a whole 2 days sober then 3 days sober! I was amazed! I know that sounds crazy but to someone who’s every waking moment away from a drink was when am I gonna get it? what time am I gonna get it? where at? how much? when can I get off? how much longer? can I get off early? can I sneak a doobie at lunch?etc…. 3 days is a big damn deal!!!

My mom called me one Sunday morning when I was about 3 weeks sober and we were talking about thangs, yes I said “thangs”. She asked if she had told me about what happened to her the night that I was arrested with my “full house”.  She proceeded to tell me the story. She felt something was very wrong with me but had no idea what it was. (partly because I wouldn’t return any of her phone calls and the last time she saw me I was stoned/strung out/drunk at my Granny’s funeral) She had this overwhelming feeling that I was in trouble and she called my Auntie who, by the way, has one of those super telekinetic God connections that just baffles me! They get together that night, on their knees, and pray to their God that He remove the Devil from my life. Less than 6 hours later I was arrested and a week later I was sober.

At 3 weeks sober I still wasn’t too keen on God but I was sober. I wasn’t too sure about this Devil thing and really I didn’t care. However, I was very sure about a few things….. When she told me that story I got chills from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I knew from that moment that God was way bigger than me and that He had ALWAYS been there, no matter if I was aware of Him being there or not. I also knew that I was arrested that night as direct result of an answered prayer because 2 people loved me enough to ask. Thank God for their selfless request I am sober today! Thanks for praying me to Jail!


Which pair of shoes

“What’s your drug of choice?” One of the many questions I have been asked that didn’t make a lick of sense to me! I had no idea I ever had to choose! My answer was  this, “Whatcha got?” I always did whatever I or you had or could get access to. At the tender age of 16, I told my mother I was never going to drink, do drugs or have sex out of wedlock and I broke all 3 within a year. I never went out to become an addict, alcoholic or a slut but that IS what happened.

I took my first drink at 17 at the County Fair. So VERY TEXAN of me!!! I had just broke up with my first boyfriend and I was drinking at him (I was a late bloomer). I don’t remember getting slobbering drunk but I do remember dancing a lot, which I was always too afraid to do before Talking to people I never had the nerve to before and I kissed my recent ex-boyfriend’s best friend! . Alcohol (Boone’s Farm) shut down all the noise in my head. Noise that I can always remember having that said, “they are looking at you, you don’t have on the right clothes, the right shoes, you aren’t funny, that’s last weeks hairstyle, everyone knows(what they know I have no clue) you aren’t enough, you are too short, tall, fat, skinny, white, freckled, etc.” All  I knew was that from that night forward is that I was going to drink again! I had to! It made being sober tolerable for me.  

I had drank every single day since my last geographical change which was the last 18 months before I got sober and almost everyday for the 2 years prior to that. I was only hooked on meth for the last 3 months but when I got to the half-way house (rom here forward I will refer to as The Faith) all I could see was that I was an addict. Thank God those people let me figure out that I was an alcoholic and thank God I was ope enough to look at that. I was required to go to a book study meeting. For those of you who aren’t in recovery, the book we study is the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. That book saved my life because it introduced me to a God that I could rely on to keep me sober. We were reading a story called “Crossing the River of Denial”

She finally realized that when she enjoyed her drinking, she couldn’t control it, and when she controlled it, she couldn’t  enjoy it.”

That story was so very much like my own personal story!, It opened my eyes to that cold hard truth that I was, am and to my understanding will always be an alcoholic!!! My old sponsor would say, “Once a pickle, always a pickle! You can never be a cucumber again!” I thank God I was open-minded enough to see the truth that day! The acknowledgement and acceptance of that truth in my life has paved the way for me to be free from the bounds of Alcoholism provided I continue to practice the principle that AA has taught me to live by.

My husband is an analogy guy… When choosing a “drug of choice” he uses a shoe analogy. Say you have a pair of red shoes and a pair of blue shoes. Your family falls on really hard times and you must sell one pair of shoes to be able to survive. So I decide to sell the blue shoes. For me that would say that my red shoes are most certainly my favorite shoes, the ones that I don’t want to live without. It I use that same analogy with my alcohol and drugs. I was ready to give up the drugs but I had every intention of doing my 4 month commitment at The Faith and then drinking when I got out. Meaning that Alcohol was my red shoes. Not only was it my favorite but the root of my problem.

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