Goodbye Blue Sky

“Look mummy, there’s an airplane up in the sky”

Pink Floyd, The Wall

 Have you ever listened to the lyrics of this song and wondered what they meant.  The melody is so soothing but the lyrics are anything but that.  The confliction reminds me of my childhood in a lot of ways.

 For most of my adult life I suppressed all notion of having anything but a happy childhood.  When certain unpleasant childhood memories did breakthrough the phalanx of my suppression, I played my own little game of “trump that”.  I just reached into my memory bank of abuse stories that I had collected, all ranked as being worse than any abuse that I suffered and I sought solace in knowing that others suffered worse abuse.  Like the woman who told me that eleven broken bones as a child is her badge of courage.  Or the man who told me how he, as a child, endured blows from a ball-peen hammer when he failed to memorize math formulas that his father had given him as an exercise.  In my mind, those were all worse cases of abuse.

 Today, I know that no rating scale for abuse exists.  If your soul was pierced as a child, you most likely have a deep wound that, unless addressed at some point in your life, will never properly heal.  A soul sickness will remain.  That has been my experience. Continue reading “Goodbye Blue Sky”

Alcoholism’s Gift

I experience internal conflict when I state that quitting alcohol was the easy part.  There is nothing easy about putting down the bottle and getting sober.  It is the journey that awaits you that is also very difficult; in fact, I found it a lot more difficult.  I believe it is that way because we are now going forward in life sober and not numbed out to the world around us!  I wish someone would have given me a heads up about this because it was a rude awakening that I did not find inviting when I started to make this connection. Continue reading “Alcoholism’s Gift”

Three Years!

1,096 days, 42 minutes and 94694685 heart beats, so says the sobriety calculator.  I say that it’s good to be alive and celebrating 3 years of being alcohol free – today!

Graced!  That is how I feel today.  I don’t think of myself as being any sort of deeply religious person, but no better word describes how I feel.  I now realize that taking alcohol out of my body placed me at the starting line of life.  Not a new life, but one that has given me the opportunity to learn who I am.  It has given me the opportunity to put my “false self” behind me and to bring my true and authentic self to the forefront.  At three years into this journey, I am overwhelmed with elation and I look forward to every day in front of me.

Reflecting back three years, for a moment, I have found this journey to be the most difficult thing that I have ever met in my life.  At year one, I was “happy” for the most part.  I was on a ski trip with my daughter for that anniversary and I knew that our trip would not have been if I was still drinking.  What I didn’t realize at the first year mark was that I was still in an unconscious state!  The full impact of the guilt, shame and remorse for the lives that I had affected, while drinking, had yet to wash over me.

 On my second anniversary I was completely paralyzed with fear.  I was definitely conscious and I was hurting.  My critical thinking skills had returned to me and I was seriously questioning the ideology of AA.  I wanted to move in another direction but found myself conflicted with the AA slogan that “this (AA) is the last house on the block.  Only jail, institutions or death await you if you leave AA” brainwashing!  Above all else, I didn’t want to run my life into the ground again.

Full of fear, I struck out on this journey of “self discovery”.  With the help of a great counselor and the love and closeness of my family and friends, I made that journey out of darkness.  I learned to forgive myself (that was tough) and I have found a wonderful life that makes me want to stay sober each and everyday.  I also discovered that all that fear I felt in my second year – it was really courage!  So that was an added bonus.  I now know that courage does not mean that you are walking forward without fear.

If this post apply’s to you in any way, it my sincere wish that you will be able to find your place as a sober person and that you will be able to, or are already taking, an amazing journey of your own!

The Time Element

1,084 days, 6 hours and 42 minutes and…93,667,839 heartbeats!  I have a sober anniversary fast approaching and decided to plug my sobriety date into one of those online sobriety calculators. 

So what does 1,084 days feel like and what does it mean to me?  I am suddenly flooded with clichés related to time.  Such as “time heals all wounds”, “time marches on”, “hindsight is 20/20” and “time takes time” etc.

What does it feel like?  It feels incredibly great.  And by “great” I definitely do not mean all good.  But great in the sense that I now have an awareness, an understanding and acceptance that life is an on-going series of “good” things and “bad” things.  Events that will bring you great joy and happiness and events that will bring you much disappointment and sorrow.  That, I believe is called the Balance of Life!  Knowing and accepting this balance has been gut wrenching at times, confusing, curious and joyful.   Overall, it has been 3 years of real maturing development for me.

One of the best messages that I could pass along to someone who is just joining the ranks of the “ex-drinker” is that Time Takes Time!  That’s a bit redundant and easy to remember.  From my experience, the first thing that I wanted to do newly sober, was fix things as quickly as possible and put back all the time that I thought I had lost.  No doubt there was a ton of wreckage behind me.  I needed to mend relationships, get a job, lose 40 lbs, get my brown lawn looking green again and go out and proclaim what good fortune had come upon me.  In hindsight, I would have been better off going down to the ocean and trying to stop the waves from breaking.  That’s a good visual of what I was trying to do with my life.

If it feels like you are trying to swim against the rapids, chances are good that is exactly what you are doing!  With hindsight and the passage of time, my advice to anyone today would be to recognize what you “want to do post-haste”, put it aside and focus squarely on taking care of yourself.  There is no need for proclamation either.  People are happy that you are showing a want to bring yourself out of a nose dive and they will be supportive of you.  Keep the proclamations in your support circle as a constant need for that and that is the proper place. 

Surround yourself with others who have been there before you and heed their advice.  Learn how to a sober person – that takes time!  Take walks instead of runs.  It took a long time to put on those extra 40 lbs. and it will take time for them to come off.  Water your lawn which will slow you down.  The lawn will eventually turn green again but it will not be over night.  And it will not be restored by flooding it once or twice.  It will come back to life through nurturing and daily care.  Your life will come back to you in this same way.  Turning your face into the sunlight will help too!

And So It Begins…..

I have always considered myself to be a pretty good planner. From a very early age onward I seemed to have my life pretty well planned out. Go to school, get good grades, play sports, have fun, graduate, go to college, get a degree, pursue a career, fall in love, get married and have children. Living the American dream had a real appeal to me!

I never considered the fact that things might happen in my life that I had not planned. At about the age of 35, career on an upward path, married with two small children and another on the way, I began to have an affinity for alcohol that seemed to gradually escalate beyond normal social drinking. Hey, who could blame me though for having a good stiff drink or two or three or four! There were now a lot of demands in my life and alcohol just seemed like a pretty good way to offload some of the burden that I had started to feel.

As my family grew, my marriage carried forward and my bank account increased as my career began a meteoric rise, my alcohol consumption kept pace with all of the things that I had so carefully planned for. For the next few years life was pretty darn good!

They say that a DUI is the first legal indication that you might have a serious drinking problem. In fact, you might even be an alcoholic! I learned that in one of the AA meetings that I had been sentenced to attend by the Courts. When my children were the ages of six, four and two, I went out partying one night after work. After leaving the night spot, that I had been at, I drove my vehicle down a winding road on my path homeward. Traveling at about 50 mph, I passed out as I was navigating an s-curve and proceeded up an embankment until my Jeep Cherokee began a barrel roll back onto the road that I had been traveling on. Amazingly, my Jeep came to a stop on all four wheels and did not take out any other vehicles in the process. The police arrived, assessed me for any injuries and then assessed me under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated. When I failed the field sobriety test, I was handcuffed, put in the squad car and driven off to the county jail.

In all my 38 years I had never been arrested. Being arrested was never anything that I had planned for in my life. Neither was the precipitous decline into alcoholism that I had yet to become aware of