I Found All The Happy Sober Women…and Gents!

Ahhh…the relief! I found them. I walked into the room and they were all milling about, hugging, smiling, laughing. A whole room full of them. Men, women, young, old, stylish, messed up, tall, and short. All smiling. The meeting started and the moderator asked if there were any new visitors to the group that would like to say hello. I raised my hand and said, “Hello!” They all laughed (about 50 people laughed!) I continued to introduce myself and mentioned that I had been looking for a group with happy sober people…I think I found it. They all laughed again and welcomed me. I was surrounded at the end of the meeting with smiles and welcomes. Goodbye cranky sober groups.

One thing that really stood out to me during that meeting. I looked around the room and found a great many people holding on to well-worn, dog-eared copies of the big book, daily devotionals, and other sober-related materials. These are hard-core AA members who take the 12 steps seriously. All conversations were related to their continued study and hard work to stay sober (no mother-in-law or ex-husband bashing as I am used to hearing). They talked a lot about their spiritual journey – no matter they personal faith. I felt a bit like a transfer student from another high school that needed to catch up.

So, I’m catching up. I’m breaking the binding on my brand new big book so I can be part of the conversation too.

Hugs to you all!

Trish

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Feeling Lean and Mean

My hubby and I went to our weekly workout with our personal trainer, Jack.  We’ve been with him for about 7 years now.  He’s an awesome trainer and has become a good friend.  Today he became a better friend when he looked me over and complimented me on my lean physique.  He mentioned that. along with our workout, my twice-per-week pilates is really showing and he’s so proud of me!  Also complimented me on my new, short and sassy haircut.  I can always count on Jack to notice when I’ve changed the color or cut of my hair (which I do quite often).  That is usually how my husband finds out I’ve had a change in style – when he hears Jack mention it!   Well, anyway, I strutted out of the gym like a peacock this morning, flexing my 61 year-old self.  Retirement has allowed me the time to take brisk walks in the morning, hike up and down my staircase several times a day, practice pilates twice per week, and look longingly at a dusty bowflex machine upstairs.  I do need to dust that thing off – and maybe pull on a couple of bars.  It’s just a matter of getting started – like anything, getting started is the hard part right?  Getting started requires a plan.  Setting a date on the calendar.  Promising yourself to give it a try.  And once you try it – you might really like it!

Where Are All the Happy Sober Women?

Well, I was reading Drunky Drunk’s post this morning about complainers and it reminded me of the women’s only AA meeting I attended last night. A series of rambling complaints about life, family, and circumstances. These are sober women who just can’t let it go. Doesn’t matter what the topic of the night is – they will find a way to connect it to some horrible in-law that they have issues with it. I’ve been trying different groups on different nights and come away each time feeling worse than when I arrived. Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable. Perhaps I’m looking for an uplifting, smiling bunch that are so thrilled that they’ve given up the poison that they can’t wait to share their pink clouds with anyone new coming in. These aren’t newbies. These are women with 10+ years in. They’ve been dumping their family business in these meetings for years and years! They sound so bitter.  But yet, when a brand new frightened alcoholic enters the room, they wrap their arms around her and spill all their words of encouragement.  How AA helped them…how there lives are so much better now that they’ve become sober.

Last night’s moderator pointed to each of us around the table to talk – rather than allowing volunteers to speak up.  So, at my turn, I had nothing to say about the topic (which I don’t recall), so I just told everyone how happy I was to be sober and how well I had maintained my new life!  Yeah whatever…on to the next bitchy mother-in-law story.

I guess I keep going to meetings hoping to find live sober people that are similar to all of YOU out there in my sober cyber world. You are all so excited and positive as you attempt to maintain (along with your struggles) this new and exciting lifestyle. Occasionally, when one of you falls down – the rest of us run to your rescue. It is such a wonderful community. Are there live meetings like this out there? Actually – there is one I know of. Josie at THEMIRACLEISAROUNDTHECORNER sounds like she runs that type of positive meeting. Yes, I hear all of you out there thinking perhaps I should start my own meeting. But all I really want to do is hang out with some like-minded ladies who have made the decision to stop drinking…ladies like me.

Time…Precious Time

It’s true what they say. Our days are filled during retirement – more than our working days. My days are filled with adventures, hobbies, friends, and books. Things I could have done while I was working, but instead chose to sit on the couch in front of the tv with a (or three) glass of wine. Now I seldom notice the difference in time between 2 o’clock and 6 o’clock. The entire day is mine for the taking. It’s a wonderful thing that I have earned after 45 years in the workplace. But it wouldn’t be this glorious had I still been drinking.

Yesterday my eldest daughter, a single mom living 12 hours away, called with hysteria in her voice to tell us about her flooded basement. “What do I do??” she exclaimed. I felt this tug in my gut to pack my bags and get in the car to drive to her rescue. I can do that now, without worry about an employer’s schedule. Her dad calmly walked her through the procedure to check the sump pump and she was able to pull herself together. Crisis avoided. I put my suitcase away. But it was a good feeling to know I could rescue her if necessary.

I’ve had hair appointments, dental cleanings, and the cable guy all in the middle of the day. Lovely.

I’m convinced that I would not be enjoying this half as much if I were drinking. I’m sure that bottle would be calling me around 2 pm instead of 5. I would be unable to make any decisions, let alone jumping in the car to rescue my daughter. I would be hiding the wineglass when the cable guy showed up at 3:30. The stress of managing to buy wine on my limited retirement budget would take the fun out of party. There would be no adventures, friends, or books. Just a longer period of time in front of the TV.

I thank God for Time…Precious Time Without Alcohol in my life.

A New Intention

Good morning all. It has been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve been reading blogs, but staying silent. I’m just getting used to this retirement schedule – meaning…no schedule. It feels sort of like I’m self-employed and working from home. I never thought I could work from home. Pictured myself in my pj’s all day without the ability to focus. Retirement is similar right now. I’m trying to determine a schedule. Here is what I have so far:

1. Wake around 6:30
2. Take a current novel to my reading chair with coffee (approx. 1 hour)
3. Fire up the computer and read email, blogs, and tweets (second cup of java)
4. Catch up on the news from my fav news blog “The Skimm”
5. Outside for a walk or bike ride
6. Shower/makeup (in case I pass someone in public today)
7. Plan a fabulous dinner for hubby (hasn’t really been fabulous yet)
8. Outside to pull some weeds and feed the birds
9. Clean something in the house
10. One hour of piano practice
11. Fill in the blank till hubby comes home

So there it is – so far. Do you see what’s missing? Yeah, me too. No human interaction. No other live humans are involved in any of those activities.

I’ve never felt uncomfortable with solitude. I played well with myself as a kid and my recent job had me working in solitude most of the time. We’ve moved to six states during our marriage, so friends and acquaintances have come and gone easily.

So, here is #12. I may need to place it somewhere in the middle of the day. It may be a lunch meeting, an invitation for coffee with a neighbor, or a volunteer opportunity.

12. Be intentional to develop relationships with others.

Is it strange to list such an obvious activity on a daily to-do list?

Now What?

Yesterday was my last day of work…forever. Meaning, my last day of employment work. I retired yesterday after 45 years of employment to someone else. I retired from other people’s expectations, timelines, and evaluations. I’ve retired from sitting, standing, driving, eating, and vacationing on someone else’s schedule. Not that I didn’t enjoy my work….

So I sit here this morning, on my first day of retirement, doing some housecleaning – not the closets yet, but in my head. I want to be intentional here. I’m the boss of me now. I make the scheduling decisions now. I decide when to start my day and when to finish – when to eat lunch and when to sit, stand, or dance.

Up until this morning, I had a bucket list in my head of all the wonderful things I would do in retirement. This morning I don’t remember any of them. I’m in awe of my freedom to make choices. My mind is blank.

I’ve accomplished two things this morning. I’ve changed my password, and I made a haircut appointment for the middle of the day tomorrow.

baby steps…

Thank You, Thank You!

Thank you all for your kind comments and congratulatory messages.  It just made my  day even more special.  As it turned out a terrible storm kept me from the AA meeting I had planned to attend.  So, I stayed home, cut a big piece of cake for myself, and enjoyed reading your messages.  You all are the best!

 

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One Year…One Awesome Year

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I’m so grateful to be celebrating my one year soberversary today that I made this cake.  And so very thankful for all of you supportive bloggers who have led my way.  I’ll celebrate this evening by taking cake to a women-only AA meeting.  I haven’t been there for months, but I need to celebrate with people that know why it’s a celebration.  People that get it.  My husband is out of town and my daughters live out of state and it would be weird to take cake to the neighbor.  She’s sweet, but she doesn’t really get it.  You all get it…but you don’t live here so I’m going to take cake to those nice ladies that sit around a metal table in a grungy back room of the church.  And I’m going to get my chip and they will all hug me and we will celebrate!  Then I’m going to come home and delete that app that keeps counting the days since I had my last drink.

 

I Can Retire Because I Don’t Drink

It’s true. I’ve just realized I can retire on June 30, 2014 because I don’t drink.  If I still drank, I would need to continue to work to support that $100/week habit.  I certainly couldn’t ask my husband to pay for my wine.  No sir, I would need to be gainfully employed to be able to buy that expensive poison that made me feel like shit every day.  There is no other reason why I would need to continue to work. I’m not quite eligible for my pension benefits yet (those would cover the wine expense), so I would have needed to work one more year before they kick in.  But since I don’t drink anymore (357 days sober today), I don’t need to go to that lonely office and sit in front of a computer all day long.  I have enough money saved in my piggy bank to buy my mascara.  I will live the simple life this year.  I don’t need to shop to be happy.  I’ve become a ferocious reader and the library is filled with books I haven’t read.  I have a bike, and tennis shoes, and gardening gloves, and a kitchen with lots of non-stick pans that want to be filled with yummy new recipes. I have a piano with loads of sheet music I have yet to master.  I look forward to a year without buying something I don’t need (and that is everything except that mascara I mentioned).  

 

A Blank Slate

That’s what I feel I have here.  A blank slate.  That’s what sobriety has offered me.  I have cleared the cloudy thoughts, eliminated the worries, doubts, procrastination, and have a clear view of endless possibilities.  Now I know what adults mean when they say to children, “you can do…you can be…anything in the world that you want.”  Well, too bad I waited till I was ready to collect social security before that realization became clear.  In any event, I have a blank slate to work with and I’d better get moving before it’s too late.

I’ve been reading several of your blogs with messages indicating that it may be time to move on, move away from the minute by minute sober evaluation.  Perhaps time to allow other thoughts and activities to fill the void.  Not suggesting total disconnect with sober blogging or group meetings, but maybe time to step out of the box a bit and spread our wings.  Are we ready?  It feels like most of those messages are coming from those of us coming upon our one year mark – or just beyond.  I listened to a Bubble Hour podcast today (a rerun actually) where co-host Lisa explained that she needed to break from the show and take care of family business that she’d put off while in her first year of recovery.  She explained that although recovery is still #1 on her list, she must step back a bit to be able to take on her family responsibilities with more energy.  I get that.  I’m feeling that.  I’m feeling more secure as I come upon my one year.  But I’m not giving up on my blogger friends.  You all understand me.  You are my soul mates.  I could tell you anything and you’ll understand.  My drinking friends/acquaintances don’t get me anymore.

Back to my blank slate.  I’m having a blast filling that in.  I’ve seen more changes in my life in this one year than I’ve had in…well, my whole life!  Important things like watching my youngest get married, taking my dream vacation to Italy, retiring after 45 years in the workforce. returning my hair to it’s natural color (that’s really a big deal for me!), getting off blood pressure meds and heartburn meds, committing to daily exercise and healthy eating, and did I mention I quit drinking? 

I was cleaning out a file folder of old health records the other day we when I came across a typed sheet of paper that I apparently planned to take along to a doctor appointment – 15 years ago, when I was 44 year old.  My kids would have been 14 and 12.  My list stated my age, 44; my weight, 160; height 5’8″; a family history of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure.  There was a list of my ailments to discuss:  waking during the night, waking with swollen joints, difficulty walking when I first awaken, heartburn, high blood pressure.  Then there was a wish list at the bottom:  Quit drinking, reduce caffeine intake (from 5-6 cups/day), exercise.  15 years ago the first thing on my wish list was to quit drinking.  The following was penciled in there as well:  “check liver function – am I hurting my liver?”    Wow…44 years old – and I know I was probably worried even before that, but I didn’t type it and print it out.

I remember talking to the doctor about that list.  She prescribed that drug that makes you vomit if you even get close to alcohol,  I filled it, but I didn’t take it. So, I am now 60, I weigh 150, I exercise daily, I no longer have high blood pressure or heartburn, I don’t wake during the night and I have no swollen joints or difficulty walking, and I probably drink 3 cups of coffee a day.  ALCOHOL…it was all ALCOHOL…

Take care, my friends.  I’m sticking close to all of you.  I depend on you and look forward to reading about you, your life, your recovery, every day.

Hugs.