When the attitude changes

It seems like I turned into a girl overnight…at 45 years old. It’s the weirdest thing yet not something I want to fight. First it was just wearing makeup, but then I suddenly decided I wanted to wear dresses. Yes. The girl who hated, HATED, wearing dresses as a kid likes to wear dresses now. How does that even happen? And sure enough, when I wear them to work, everyone thinks I have an interview. And no, I don’t have an interview.

dress

What I do have is a different attitude and I can only assume it is related to sobriety and working out a lot of issues affecting my view of myself. I still have a long way to go, but it’s amazing how much easier it is to travel just one day at a time. I was reading earlier, and I had gotten to a chapter with a title that included the phrase “return to sanity.” It led to a short office discussion in which I stated that returning to sanity insinuates that you actually had sanity at some point. I will also point out that I was reading about home organization not any 12 step material. Although, the last chapter of the book referenced the founding of AA which had me look at the book from a different perspective.

Regarding sanity and it’s role in organization or lack thereof, I also had a conversation recently regarding the disorganization of my house. I’ve known my house was out of control for years, but I never really saw it as it really was. Just as I took action on my own personal appearance, I have begun to take action on the appearance of my house. Truth be told, it has looked like a couple of drunks have been living in it. The kids’ rooms are complete wrecks because they learned housekeeping skills from a couple of drunks who made minimal (if any) effort to keep a clean and orderly house.

Given the state of our house and my change in attitude, I decided that the house is getting cleaned up one way or another. I had purchased 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House a few months ago, and with that as a guide, went after my family. Because, you know, if I’m the only one working and there are 3 other people living in that house, it should be clean. CLEAN! I gave the kids a week to get their rooms cleaned up or else I was turning the internet off. Chad asked for an extra day, but he got it done and his room was by far the worst in the house. In the meantime, I cleaned up my office, the landing upstairs, the master bathroom, and got a big chunk of the master bedroom done. James got the kitchen deep cleaned, and a lot of the living room. The only reason Jamie still has internet is because I cannot currently remember the admin password to the router.

“Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.” – Alcoholics Anonymous.

Finding a new way of life – and living it – will change your attitude, and the way you live life. Miracles happen, and promises come true.

Too much

Last week was one of those weeks where there was just too much. It’s been a while since I had a panic attack. I had 2 last week. I guess maybe I needed a reminder that there is no such thing as an instant fix for one’s issues that are so deeply rooted. I had gotten pretty confident that I had finally grown up emotionally, and then I talked to my mom, and she largely couldn’t talk back. She would try, but then get frustrated when she couldn’t say what she was thinking and say, “I’m just crazy, crazy, crazy!” I wanted to argue and yell, “NO, YOU’RE NOT CRAZY!” But I know the futility of arguing with someone who has lost the ability to reason and retain. So I would just say, “You know, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” And it is. It just doesn’t feel like it.

I had a uterine ultrasound the next day. I made light of it because I really wasn’t overly concerned. In fact, I was hoping the results would show the need for a hysterectomy. Turned out to be 2 benign ovarian cycts. And must be on the left because I don’t think he ever found my right ovary. I thought at the time that he couldn’t see it because the wand was puncturing a lung and my ovaries aren’t that high. Not that I exaggerate. ;) But all joking aside, as I was laying there I felt the beginning of the first panic attack. I got home to find no one there, and in a few minutes the rest of the family returned from a trip to Lowes picking up a new dishwasher. James kept asking me questions as he was swapping them out about what we did when we installed the original. “I don’t know. All I remember is we fought.” He kept asking and I kept giving that same answer because even though the circumstances were completely different, I was freaking out inside over the memory. Finally he said, “This isn’t like last time, and I’m not going to yell at you.” I responded, “I know. You’re sober and I’m sober. But I never dealt with that event.” I finally managed to calm down enough to switch out the wiring which, ironically, was the thing that turned the original install into such a huge fight. And everything went so smoothly. It was amazing. Yet, I still showed up to a meeting with my sponsor later in a panic attack. And thank goodness we were meeting that night!

But then the next day, I got double-teamed at work and told to grow a spine. I turned right back into an emotional 5 year old and shut down. Another thing happened the next day at work that triggered another panic attack on the way home. I remember thinking then, “I’ll wake up with a migraine tomorrow.” I did get to meet the Fonz that night which was just too cool. It would have been cooler if he’d held my hand like he did Petra. Just sayin’. And sure enough, I woke up with a migraine.

I had an appointment Saturday morning that I wasn’t going to let a migraine stop. It was something I didn’t want to do, but I could come up with no good reason not to do it, and God didn’t close that door. We had agreed on 45 min. I thought that would be too long, but we talked for like 3 hours. I don’t think I have ever felt that comfortable being that open and sharing with someone I barely knew. We both agreed that it was a God thing. To top it off, though I hadn’t yet taken anything for my migraine because I didn’t want to be half stoned out while there, there was no pain that whole time. I had trouble with speaking words, but that’s not unusual. After I left though? My head nearly exploded on me. Especially when I stopped at Food Lion. Another God thing.

And yesterday morning, I stood in the shower and broke down. I had that huge ugly cry that I needed last week after talking to my mom. I wondered at the time even as the sobs wracked through my body why I have such a hard time surrendering to grief and sorrow to this day. Why can’t I let go and be vulnerable around other people and especially my close friends and family? I mean, I know why. But why do I hang onto it after it had long since stopped being useful? I know the answer to that too. It’s frustrating.

It works if you work it

I always thought I knew what faith was even though I couldn’t explain it. Oh, I could quote scripture about it, but I just thought I understood it. That being said, I still don’t completely understand it, and can no more explain it other than by telling you what it isn’t.

I played with the worship team at church a few weeks ago, and our only rehearsal as a group was Sunday morning before the first service. They were all easy songs to play, and I had played all but one before, so I felt fairly confident that I could play without any major screwups. That confidence did not keep me from losing my place in Cornerstone in every single service. Even though I did just fine in rehearsal. However, a couple weeks prior we had done a song called Relentless, and in one of the last choruses, there are 2 separate parts being sung. The first time we did it 2 weeks prior, I was one of the 2 vocalists to be singing the second part. We hadn’t had a rehearsal before that Sunday either, and since I hadn’t practiced it, I missed the cue every.single.time. This time I had it. One of the ladies pointed out during rehearsal that she could hear me and I had it down. I said, “I practiced that so hard last week!” And I did. I put more practice time into nailing the vocals on that one chorus than guitar and vocals combined on the other songs. This led to a discussion about faith, and how faith isn’t faith until it’s put in action. You have to work it.

And that’s when I said, “It works if you work it.”

I first heard that phrase in Al-Anon in reference to the Al-Anon program. Which is nearly identical to the AA program from which it was derived. It was about a year and a half ago that I stepped into Al-Anon, and I can say with absolute certainty, I didn’t work the Al-Anon program. I went to meetings. I read the literature. I didn’t call anyone even though I had 2 phone lists. I was my own sponsor. So I stayed perpetually on the 1st step – “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” I knew my life was unmanageable. There was no doubt about that. Powerless, though, I was not. Or so I thought.

I remember right before I started going to Al-Anon, I went to an open AA meeting with my husband. After the meeting he asked me what I thought and I said, “That is what church should be like. That is living out James 5:16.”

James 5:16 English Standard Version (ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I am convinced that is the only way we can bear one another’s burdens.

Galatians 6:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This is the essence of love. And it was love that got and kept me sober. A group of drunks who loved me until I could love myself. Strangers who walked with me one day at a time encouraging me to keep coming back. The woman I picked out to be my sponsor that I didn’t have the nerve to actually ask – who reached out to me and helped me pluck up the courage I had sat on for 2 weeks. God doing for me what I could not do for myself. But I still had to work at it.

I had to go to meetings. I had to read my literature. I had to call my sponsor – especially when I didn’t want to. I had to listen to her tell me what I didn’t want to hear and do what she suggested whether I wanted to or not. Sometimes she pissed me off. But I followed her. I followed her because she had already been down this road and knew the way. I followed her because God told me he had been sending people to help me when I cried out to him asking why he hadn’t helped me, and therefore I chose to trust that he put her in my life. I work the program, and it works even though I don’t work it perfectly.

Ephesians 2:8-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Faith isn’t something we manufacture ourselves. It’s not a bargaining means to get God to grant our wishes. It is given to us to do what God would have us do whether his will is for us to act or be still. He gives us faith for His purpose and His glory. That is why it works if you work it. Because it’s not about you.

Happy New Year (at the end of January)

January is practically over. Where has the month gone? I mean it seems like just yesterday I was complaining about how long it was taking to get to January 20. That is another post that I might eventually finish and publish. Aw, what the heck. That was my 1 year mark. 1 whole dang year sober.

I deliberately didn’t do a 2015 goals post. No sense in setting myself up for failure. That isn’t to say I don’t have any goals, but I know some of them aren’t going to happen until spring. Like running consistently. I did, however, run New Year’s Day morning. I did another run on my own and then did a run with Karyn like we used to do back in the day. You know, I knew I missed running with her, but I didn’t really realize how much I missed it until that run. And I got to see Molly again! It was a short visit, but it was so great to see her face to face again.

I’m back with the worship team at church. I had really missed playing and singing with them, and, well, it just seems like more fun now. Probably because I’m not so stressed out in general as I was for a while.

Jamie has her driver’s license and her Granny’s car, so I have a go-fer now. And she drives herself to her appointments. And takes Chad and James to theirs. And makes me carsick when I ride with her. So now she can get a J-O-B. So can James. And Chad.

I successfully completed my chiropractic treatment plan. Oh man. It is so nice to not wake up with a headache every single day. Granted, I woke up with one this morning, but I’ve been sick all week, and it’s not just my head that hurts. Anyway, I only have to go once a month now.

On the subject of fewer appointments, I have mentally and emotionally recovered enough that I only have to see my therapist every 3 weeks. She really pisses me off sometimes when she tells me what I don’t want to hear…or address. ;)

Speaking of addressing things, my diet. Ugh. It got bad over Christmas and subsequently so did the pain in my joints. And I got so glutened. So I will be cooking today in an effort to reduce the processed food I am ingesting. And saying no to candy, though I would like to know what I did with the Dove bar I bought last night that seems to have not made it from Lowes to my house.

Amber is pregnant again. That cat is such a ho.

The year in books

I thought I would list out the books I read this year and comment on each of them. I am writing this intro after the fact and realizing that perhaps I should keep a reading journal because I’ll read a book and forget what I read. Absent from this list are 6 daily meditation books, and no I don’t read all 6 every day. Just 4 of them.

1. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Since I’ve already outed myself as an alcoholic… Funny story, though. This past Sunday after church, I was having a problem unlocking all the doors of the car and so the hubby spent a few seconds waiting on me. He noticed my big book laying in the back seat for everyone to see and said, “Well, that’s bold.” And it’s still laying there in my back seat for the world to see.

2. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

I read through it, and then when I actually started working the steps, I went through the twelve steps portion again.

3. Jesus + Nothing = Everything

I think it was Chapter 11 that really clicked for me.

4. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

I had some serious trust issues.

5. Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest

I don’t remember much, but I remember ordering a copy for Petra. I also remember it stepping on my toes over something.

6. A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

I read Joni’s autobiography when I was a kid probably 12. This one made no less of an impact.

7. The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity

This explained so much about part of why I am the way I am. Because really, there isn’t much difference between a pastor’s kid and a deacon’s kid.

8. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free

This really spoke to me about my idols and addiction.

9. Drop The Rock: Removing Character Defects – Steps Six and Seven

This book was a gift to me. A wonderful gift.

10. The Hunter’s Blades Collector’s Edition

I finally finished the 3rd book. It left me hanging.

11. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

I had read this several years ago, but I don’t think it sunk in the first time. It was as if I had never read it, but it might be that I was just reading with different eyes this time having actually been in 12 step recovery. Unlike the first time.

12. Orange Is the New Black

So Petra added me to a book club that she and Andrea created on Facebook. This was the second book. I didn’t even attempt the first one as I had zero interest. But, this was pretty good.

13. Adult Children of Alcoholics: Expanded Edition

Either late last year or early this year I got a meditation book at Al-Anon that is really geared more toward adult children of alcoholics. As I read the daily meditations, I thought, “My dad acted just like an alcoholic.” Only he didn’t drink. He tried when he was young, but he said it didn’t do for him what he wanted it to. Anyway, I have all the characteristics of an adult child because my home growing up was every bit as dysfunctional as if there was an active alcoholic in it.

14. Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection

I just finished this last night, and I read 3 books between starting and finishing this.

I have no reading goals for next year, though I would like to finally finish the ones I have started. We’ll see.

Wrapping up

This has been quite a year. I did not even accomplish half of my goals for the year. Life got crazy! For most of the year I was not only the only one in this house with a job, but the only one with a driver’s license. That wore me out and sucked up a large amount of vacation/sick time. But Jamie finally got her driver’s license, so the pressure is off to be everyone’s chauffeur. Oh, and we also only had 1 vehicle for much of the year, so I was still on the hook until we got another car.

I got my nose pierced. And I want to get my eyebrow pierced now. I also want a couple of tattoos, but that won’t happen until Petra gets inked.

My mom had a mini stroke. Adding that into the Alzheimer’s mix, she now has 3 distinct personalities. 1, she is still Mom, but has trouble saying the right words. She knows who you are, but can’t say your name. That’s the stroke effect. 2, she is still Mom, but she has no idea who people are. Thanksgiving, she would forget who the kids were, and thought I was Aunt Pearl. That’s the Alzheimer’s. It’s sad, but expected and fairly easy to deal with because she retains that same kind and loving personality of my Mom. But then there is that 3rd one – the paranoid delusional one. This one knows who I am, but thinks people are out to get her. This one infuriates me because she is nothing like my mom. Intellectually I know this is another aspect of the Alzheimer’s, but emotional detachment is not so easy.

The contract I worked on ended, and we switched to a new one with a new company. I got a 4 week paid staycation out of it which was great for the first 2 weeks. Those last 2 weeks, I was calling the security office nearly every day asking if my stuff had transferred so I could go back to work. And the first week back, I filled in as site lead while the site lead was on vacation. 4 weeks of nothing and then a week of everything because I was the only one left with working accounts. I still don’t want to be site lead. Oh, and I took a 10% pay cut. It hurts. But I love my co-workers.

I was forced to admit that I’m an alcoholic. By forced, I mean I was told I needed to quit for a while and I couldn’t. For those who don’t already know. Assuming more than 3 or 4 people read this blog anymore. Once I did the 3rd step, I realized I essentially rededicated my life to Jesus, and decided to get rebaptized as a matter of owning my faith as my own. And I am 11 months sober. One day at a time.

Throughout the year while working on my recovery through therapy, and through a 12-step program (which a LOT of people could really use), I have learned a lot about myself, and have come to terms and dealt with issues that I had never dealt with. I have grieved, and I have forgiven. I have learned to accept responsibility for my actions and reactions, and how to ask for forgiveness. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. Life is more peaceful when you cease to be a victim/martyr.

2. Other people are responsible for their own choices and therefore their own consequences.

3. Life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation.

4. Trying to live up to a manufactured facade of other people’s expectations (real or perceived) will drive you insane.

5. It is okay to feel. Emotions are God-given. But let them be indicators and means of healing rather than living by them. Life isn’t sunshine and roses. You take the good, you take the bad.

Getting back

You’ve heard for years “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I learned something recently. Sometimes you don’t know what you lost until you get it back. I was at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago with my daughter. She was taking entirely too long (from my perspective) to pick out yarn, so I was just kind of wandering around. I was in the art section, and looking at paint thinking how much I enjoyed painting when I was a teenager. It fell to the wayside once I made several new friends that I was hanging out with a lot, and definitely once I got a guitar. But as I was standing there, I decided that maybe I would dabble in painting again. I certainly never was (and still am not) good at drawing. I’m not being overly critical of myself in that area. I got somewhat better at drawing through drafting, and doing rough sketching, but that came from actual training. And it’s all really simple stuff too like a really basic bookshelf or table. Painting was different though. I think I had a fair amount of talent that would have improved over time. Had I pursued it, that is.

I really didn’t give much more thought to that, but I did buy some paper and watercolor thinking I would like to give it another go. I haven’t done anything with it, but the desire is there. And maybe it won’t end up like that drawer full of jewelry making items that I stopped messing with. I do have a tendency to attempt things and then lose interest. Case in point, crochet, knitting, and that sewing machine that hasn’t seen use in years. My daughter picked up and took off with crocheting, and is way better than I am. I found knitting much easier, but I may be a bit too ADD for all the stitch counting and trying to remember whether or not I’m doing a purl stitch in the middle of a row.

A couple weeks ago, I had the urge to write poetry. Like painting, I haven’t dabbled with that since I was a teenager. The thought of actually finding my old dabblings half terrifies me, but again, it’s another thing that just fell to the wayside. At the time, it was my way of working through a loss. I suppose my blogging over the years has had the same sort of therapeutic purpose, though the really deep and painful things go in my paper and ink journal. But much of that I did either semi-superficially (the blog) or sporadically (the journal) when things got really crazy in my life.

Now I have been known to overdramatize to an extent some of what I write. It’s a gift. ;) My poetry epiphany, though, isn’t. It was a dramatic realization that I have something back that I had lost though my years of self-medicating – my dreams. I described it to my therapist this way, “I feel like a teenager again without all the teenager crap.” That little bit of ideological wonder that I had before I started numbing and turning cynical.

It’s like I have myself back – the self I didn’t allow myself to have, or allowed to have. The child I couldn’t be when I was a child.

Veteran’s Day #NaBloPoMo

I hated formations. I would do everything I could to get out of a formation. When I couldn’t, I was generally irritable and borderline (if not outright) belligerent. I knew there was some real work I could be doing rather than standing until my toes went numb. There was one when I was overseas that pissed me off to no end because while it was done with good intentions, the execution had the opposite effect. Because really, who wants to get up on the 4th of July and go stand in formation in order to improve patriotism. In “peacetime.” Having a lack of respect for a authority (which is not one of my good character traits), I pushed the envelope for that one. I dug out the worst uniform I owned which was one of my initial issued ones from basic, which I had worn at my first duty assignment. The pants were more faded than the shirt because that was one of the distinguishing marks of working in a combat comm unit in Oklahoma. You spent a lot of time outdoors in the heat with the BDU blouse off in just a tshirt. I found the worst looking BDU hat to wear, and probably found some mud to wade through and stick to my boots. Several of us carpooled, and so SSgt Nemec had 2 specialists and a senior airmen with her. I went all out to be a good role model. ;) When we got ready to leave, our division superintendent and commander were standing right in front of my car having a conversation. I said something like, “Hey y’all. Watch this!” I popped in a CD, skipped to the song I wanted, cranked up the volume, and blasted Fortunate Son. Despite that boldness, I was too scared to look as was Darrel and Val. But Emily looked, and gave a great description of the reaction. The commander pretended nothing was happening, but the superintendent’s jaw dropped in complete disbelief. Score! But, after all that, all of us disgruntled soldiers and airmen went to Pop Bellies for breakfast which made getting up worthwhile.

Fast forward a year later, and I still hate formations. And we all got tagged with one we couldn’t get out of. By all, I mean the entire organization, just like the 4th of July one. Only it was a workday, but a Friday, and this one required service dress/class A’s. Darrel managed to break something, so he had to stay and fix it while the rest of us dutifully gaggled up in front of headquarters. Now the occasion for this one was this. Every year the 303rd Bombardment Group who were based at RAF Molesworth during World War II would travel back to the UK for a reunion. That year was going to be their last reunion since it was so much harder for them to travel at their age. So the powers that be decided the JAC should greet them as they arrived. I was tired of standing long before they finally arrived. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for what I was about to be a part of. Yes, my uniform was sharp because I didn’t have crappy looking blues. My shoes were clean and shiny. And I snapped to attention and a sharp salute. What I wasn’t prepared for though was what I was about to see. I don’t know how many cars and buses drove through us. I have no idea how many WWII vets were in them. But there were a LOT, and I don’t think there was a dry eye among them. I know my eyes were leaking. I was filled with such pride to be able to honor those men – the heroes who made it. It was so humbling to watch those tear-filled men salute us back, and I was and still am so glad I didn’t get out of that one.

303Grifn

Because of that one, I didn’t balk at going to the Memorial Day service the following year at Cambridge American Cemetery. Talk about another humbling experience. To walk among so many men who didn’t make it back. Utterly heartbreaking.

Pict0028[1]

Pict0038[1]

Today I specifically want to remember family members who served before and with me. I don’t think there was a war since our countries founding that I didn’t have an ancestor serving in. Unfortunately, I can only put names to those since WWII. I have multiple uncles, cousins, in-laws, and a niece who have served in each branch. It’s great that my husband and I are among so many veterans among our families.

Hitting the wall again #NaBloPoMo

I ran into a friend at Starbucks last week. “You look tired.” Well, at least I looked like I felt. It was another one of those days that the alarm went off and I thought there was no way I would be able to get up. But I did, after only hitting snooze once, and was even a little bit early to work. Would have been earlier had I not had the conversation in Starbucks. I think I told her, “I need a wife.” But really what I need is another licensed driver and a second vehicle, and that won’t happen until after Thanksgiving. Next day a co-worker told me I looked like crap. Again, I looked like I felt.

Pretty sure I am burnt out. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a long time. It’s caught up with me. I wake up as tired as I go to bed. It’s like I’ve hit the wall.

I did something I didn’t want to do and stepped down from the worship team at church for a while. I didn’t give a time frame, but right now I am thinking a couple of months. I’m counting on Jamie getting her license and giving her Mom’s car to drive to take some of the pressure off of me to take everybody everywhere. At the very least, she will be able to take herself to her appointments. That will be less time I have to take off from work which means less time I have to make up at work since I am in the hole for leave and will be close to the max I can go in the hole after Thanksgiving. Anyway, back to the worship team, it’s not like it is really that big of a commitment. I was only doing a couple Sundays a month. But, over the past 3 or 4 months, I haven’t had the time nor the energy to put in the practice time I needed to. In turn, as much as I LOVE playing and singing with the band, I felt unprepared. And the last couple Sundays I played I couldn’t even keep the songs straight. Especially that last Sunday. Losing my place in a song is one thing. Playing the wrong song is a whole different thing.

I am mentally exhausted, I am emotionally exhausted, and I am physically exhausted. Perfectionism has run me into the ground. Thinking I have to know everything, do everything, and be perfect at it has beat me. That constant feeling of not being “good enough” or “strong enough” or “doing enough” has had a heavy toll.

And then it broke #NaBloPoMo

And then my quest to blog every day of November got squashed when I couldn’t log into my blog. By that I mean I couldn’t get to the admin site at all. I had to go into my hosting, rename the plugins folder which disabled all plugins, and that let me back in where I then reactivated my plugins one by one. It felt like work. Who knows which plugin shut me out.

Election day is over and thankfully I don’t have to hear any more campaign ads. I got so sick of them.

Amber only has 2 kittens left from litter #2. Our pet cemetery is filling up.