Grumpy Today

imageSo much to be grateful for but I am grumpy today. Normally I could blame this on hormones but its not it. I’m restless, irritable and discontent. And tired. And my back hurts.

And I’m picking fights with strangers. Maybe it’s because Husband is drinking again and I’m jealous. He’s not an alcoholic so no worries there. But he was my drinking buddy. He quit to support me. Oh well. It’s not his problem, it’s mine. Sooooo…

Gratitude list?

1. I’m grateful for the rain that is taking away the new pollen.

2. I’m grateful for all kinds of people, whether I agree with them or not. I do have that weird eternity kind of love for all people. Does that make sense?

3. I’m grateful Husband refrained from drinking for so long just to support and “suffer with” me

4. Grateful I can go to the women’s meeting tomorrow at 11:30 to see my peeps.

5. I’m grateful it’s almost bed time.

Good night! I feel better already. Nothing like a gratitude list to cure a bout of self-pity. Plus I found this awesome picture of the Samaritan woman listening at the feet of Jesus.  He offers her (and me) his living water.

Sober Sundays Vol. 1

sober sundaysThis “Sober Sundays” link-up is party time. And you’re invited to the party. There are 2 ways to participate, so CLICK HERE for instructions.

Sweet Sundays. Sundays are days of rest. Real rest. Not the recovering-from-a-hangover type of rest. Many of us made promises to ourselves and others on Sundays–we would quit drinking, the result of having too much on Saturday nights.

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For Sober Sundays Vol. 1, I’d like to provide a gratitude list because as long as I remember to be grateful for the blessings in my life then I won’t slip back into self-pity, feeling sorry for myself that I can’t rush out to drink a 12-pack of green beer today.

  1. I’m grateful that today I am truly present for my children. They sense it and they love it.
  2. I’m grateful today that my husband isn’t thinking about leaving me.
  3. I’m grateful today that we have a new pope!  I’m so excited about Pope Francis!
  4. I’m grateful today I can form true partnerships with others because of sobriety.
  5. I’ll be grateful today if anybody joins me in this link up!  I’d feel really silly if I was at this party all by myself.

And the post I’d like to share is the one I wrote here where I give five reasons Pope Francis is a great choice by the Holy Spirit for alcoholics.

Join the party!  Click on the little blue frog button below and add your link!  For instructions on how to fully participate in a blog-hop way, click here.

Dear God

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear God,

Hi. How are you? Thank you for keeping me sober yesterday and please keep me sober today, too–I keep following your instruction to do this sober thing one day at at time. I was surprised yesterday when I realized I will have six months sober on Easter. I’ve been counting the days and didn’t realize how many months had added up.  By your grace, I’ve been able to get back to my sober life.

After being sober for three years, I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have wine on my anniversary. But since I hadn’t been to AA the last year and a half of those three years, I didn’t have the regular reminder that I can’t drink like normal people.  And it took me three years of trying really hard to get sobriety back before I have been finally able to. Please don’t let me lose this?

I look at those three years and see your lessons.  One of the things you taught me was that financial security isn’t something I can count on, nor should I.  And through all that, here we sit in a teeny house with our life downsized 2/3 the size it was before. I never want to go back to big.

The blessings in having this little simple life are enormous. The boys share a room. We all four share one bathroom!  What character you’ve built-in all of us from all this sharing and physical closeness.

In my downsized life I actually get the laundry done.  The laundry room is right there.  I walk past it every time I go to the bathroom or to my room, so it’s easy to just throw a load in or take a load out.

Remember in the old house, the 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom golf and country club house?  Remember how the laundry would pile up in the playroom so high that my Mom would have to come over and help me fold it all?  I felt like such an incapable mother that I couldn’t keep up with the laundry!

Waverunners in Perdid Key, Florida

Waverunners in Perdido Key, Florida

Working full-time then and trying to run and manage that big house and big life really was too much for me. Sure I could handle it. I won the sales awards and the sales contests. I made really good money and we had amazing benefits for our whole family.

But none of that worked for us. Husband, the boys and I were all always running around, low-level anxiety permeated all of us. It wasn’t until we left all that behind, on a whim almost, when we decided to purchase this 1300 square foot 1925 farm-house and renovate it, that life began to get simpler.

Not at first, though. All the work the house needed before we could even move in! We were still drinking, and I can still see some of the trim I painted drunk that needs to be touched up.

Settled now, for the most part, I started my own small marketing firm, took a few clients immediately and learned the ropes of my new endeavor. Then, I got pregnant–and the boys were out of school for the summer–I gave up the clients and focused more on our home and family.  I was really happy. Giving up drinking when I was pregnant was a no-brainer, piece of cake. It was fun imagining the baby would be a girl and finally having some pink around our house. I remember thinking how grateful I was to you, discovering we were pregnant at age 42–I thought this must be Your way of getting me back to sobriety. We had decided to name her after my mother, Elizabeth Claire.

But you knew there were other plans for me, the miscarriage and subsequent D&C–gosh all that was awful. All the blood and painfulness. I was so sad.  The boys were so sad.  But it wasn’t meant to be. And I was able to see that if that wasn’t your will for me then I am okay with that. There must have been a reason – beyond my understanding – for losing the baby.

I’m sorry I went right back to drinking. And it was worse, more. After two months of that Husband had had enough and he threw me out. And in those dark, dark days that followed, I quit you. During those days of unspeakable brokenness and tears, I finally, finally broke.  I even felt something break in my head, like a physical sensation. It was the moment I told you I hated you, didn’t want you in my life and that I had no use for you whatsoever and I meant it with my whole being. I completely 100% for the first time in my life ever hated you. I told you out loud that I consciously choose to kick you out of my life.

And then something broke.

family2But then you sent an angel. my sister Liz who took off work and took me into her home and showered me with love and all of her religiousness.  Everything in her house is touched by you–the crucifixes, the rosaries, the Mary statues, the prayer cards, all of it. She set me up in her son’s room for ten days and I remember staring at that picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy that she had tacked up on the wall right next to my pillow at eyes height. I remember staring into Jesus’ eyes. And they penetrated me, warmed me, filled me. I remember telling you I was absolutely broken and scared.  And I started writing.

I filled two journal books in those ten days, and I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day LOL!  And my sister who hates smoking never said a word to me when I smoked full-time on her back deck! She even brought me an ashtray. And I wrote two full books full of talking to you, praying to you, begging you and reaching out to you.  Every day my journal started out with Dear God.  And you filled me like you had never filled me before.

Thank you.

Within two weeks, I was reunited with the family and within two months I’d gotten back into AA and started working the steps. And now here I am, dear God, writing to you filled with peace and gratitude for all the wonderful gifts of my life. If I had to plan my life, it wouldn’t have looked like this.  And thank you for that! Because if I had planned my life, I wouldn’t have the joy and peace that you give that surpasses my understanding.

Love, Reg

7 Quick Takes Friday: 7 Things I Don’t Miss Now That I’m Sober

7quicktakesHere we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

I do NOT miss these seven things, now that I am sober:

I do not miss: 1. Missing Mass because we didn’t get our act together to go in the morning. And I would be drinking by the afternoon so I couldn’t go to evening Mass.  Nine times out of ten we would go in the morning. But if we didn’t for some reason, then I chose alcohol over God.

“How high a price we pay for the burden of habit! I am fitted for life here where I do not want to be, I want to live there but am unfit for it, and on both counts I am miserable.”  Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

I do not miss: 2. Begging God to please help me stop, take over my will, give me a miracle, make me stop drinking for good please. I remember yelling at God telling him free will was a stupid idea!

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 

jesus-mary-magdaleneI do not miss: 3.  Not remembering a great evening because I had had too much to drink. I especially ruined date nights with Husband. The night would start out wonderfully, with sushi and Chardonnay.  Then, inevitably I’d want to have more wine.  Perhaps we’d skip the movie and instead “hang out and drink.”  That’s when the best conversations happen, right?  We were bonding, sharing out feelings. Right. By the end of the night, I’d most likely said things and behaved in ways I wasn’t proud of.

Ah! Those who rise early in the morning in pursuit of strong drink, lingering late inflamed by wine, banqueting on wine with harp and lyre, timbrel and flute, but the deed of the LORD they do not regard, the work of his hands they do not see! Isaiah 5:11-12

I do not miss: 4. Hangovers. Working from home gave me the opportunity to be hungover and still get my work done–I could be miserable with a headache and lay in bed with my laptop and my Advil. Forcing myself to get up early to get the kids off to school, fed and with their lunches was such a chore. And then as soon as they were out the door, I’d head back to bed for more uselessness.

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion. Catechism of the Catholic Church

I do not miss: 5. my children’s worried faces. I’d pick the little darlings up from school and they’d be excitedly sharing their day with me. Mom, they gave us hot chocolate today during safety patrol. Mom, I’m the star student next week so we need to make my poster. Mom, can you help me tonight with my Literature project?  And then, inevitably on the way home, I’d stop at the convenience store and pick up a 6 pack of Michelob Light.  Back in the car, my children’s faces were down, their sweet voices quieted.  The cloud of alcoholism had surely infected our family, in unspoken words.

“Pride is the king of vices…it is the first of the pallbearers of the soul…other vices destroy only their opposite virtues, as wantonness destroys chastity; greed destroys temperance; anger destroys gentleness; but pride destroys all virtues.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

I do not miss: 6. Husband’s irritation and worry. At times during my drinking days, Husband would say to me, “Honey, I don’t mind drinking every now and then, going out and having fun with friends, or staying home and drinking. But I can’t do this every night.  Maybe just on the weekends?”

“The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church – read on – and give his life for her (Eph. V, 25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is – in her own mere nature – lease lovable. For the Church has not beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs.” CS Lewis, The Four Loves

I do not miss: 7. being separated from God. I think many of us have that “one thing” that blocks us off from the light of God. The more we focus on the thing, rather than on God, the more we separate ourselves from grace.  Once I put down the thing I loved and walked away, God was able to enter my life and fill the vacuum left inside of me.  And how glorious to be filled in this way!

“Virtue is its own reward, and brings with it the truest and highest pleasure; but if we cultivate it only for pleasure’s sake, we are selfish, not religious, and will never gain the pleasure, because we can never have the virtue.” Cardinal Henry Newman

Hope Flows

Girl with a balloonThis hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil. Hebrews 6:19

Looking back at some of my old posts I was drawn today particularly to this one which sounds a lot like where I am today.  A little disconcerting to realize this was written almost five years ago, back in 2008–and I’m still in “this place today.”  Yikes!

The truth is my spiritual, family and professional life travels in cycles: re-birth, exploration, running the race, and the fall. Would love to avoid the falls, but the older I get I realize how necessary the falls are in leading me to more growth.

I’m in a re-birth phase today, in transition in all areas of my life:

From professional salesperson to my true love, which is writing with an eye for marketing and design.

From Mom of two little boys that need full-time supervision to having a lot more independence–Ben is old enough to “babysit” so even at night my husband and I can go out for a couple of hours and leave them at home if we want to.  Also, they’re both needing me less and less for help with school.  They attend a top Catholic school and the academics can be quite rigorous.  It seems they’re in their grooves, keeping up, handling the workloads on their own.

From newlywed and “young married couple” to a 15 year marriage that has weathered some storms and has the scars to prove it.  There is an acceptance and humility in our marriage now.  We’re not invincible anymore.  We need to actively “protect” and nurture our marriage.  It doesn’t run on autopilot anymore.

From financial fairytale ignorance to cultivating and developing a financial plan for our family that is diversified and works with reality, not with dreams. Investing all of our time and money in real estate, dreaming our investments would sustain us to and through retirement turned out to not be a great plan when the housing market tanked, along with our “dreams.”

From daughter who brings all my problems to my Mom to adult daughter who realizes that my 80-year-old parents need some help.

From a three-year stressful period of not taking care of myself physically to beginning again my self-care, more AA meetings and more running.

abandon hope2I love my life today. I feel good.  I have hope. As Pope Benedict said in the opening paragraph of his encyclical on Hope, “The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.”

Hope is one of the great themes in the Bible. The Pope observes a deep link  between faith and hope, so much so that, in some passages, they are almost “interchangeable.” He draws on the Letter to the Hebrews, Letter to the Ephesians and other New Testament letters to make his point.

In Ephesians, our Pope points out to us, “To come to know God—the true God— means to have hope.”

He discusses Paul’s encounter with the Ephesians. “Before their encounter with Christ they were ‘without hope and without God in the world’ (Eph 2:12).” In spite of their empty gods, the Ephesians “were ‘without God’ and consequently found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future.”

Hope, of course, in and through Christ, leads to the light.

I had a rebirth of hope back in 2007–I remember it distinctly.  But it wasn’t even a couple of years later–in 2009 I went back to work in sales to ease our financial troubles at home–when my priorities shifted, and God was eased out of His place of prominence in my life. My spiritual life (from which the rest of my life breathes) didn’t flow.  Funny how life doesn’t flow very well when I’m not remembering to live in God’s will every morning.

It wasn’t on purpose.  I got attracted to working again, having a lot of money, being praised and liked by others. I won sales awards, and I chased each next thing I could accomplish to get me more praise and attention. More!

The malaise snuck up on me.  Taking a good job with plenty of income and benefits seemed to be a good idea at the time. It was a good thing, right?  But little by little I was losing “myself” by drifting from my God, chasing as Pope Benedict described above “empty gods.”

I have finally turned the corner to head back in His direction with my full attention.  It’s weird to say this, but quitting my job last April was the first step for me back to God.  And I have HOPE once again. We just don’t have much money. 🙂

My “goal” is God will.  And if I remember each morning to ask God to direct my thinking and my actions for this day, then hope flows. It’s as simple as that. Yay!

Gratitude List: Dec 21, 2012

  1. I Might be sick but it isn’t from a hangover
  2. Beautiful charm key chain from Ms Stacey today thank you sweet girl!
  3. Love how Jenny and i are sober the same amount of days even though you beat me by two days
  4. Chairing the meeting was fine and not stressful at all
  5. Amy bringing me into her sober world so i get to meet and know all you crazy ladies