Coffee Keeps Me Sober.

Coffee Keeps Me Sober.

Today I want to talk more about recovery. Specifically, service work in recovery.

There are 4 factors that contribute to continued sobriety. When I listen to them, I stay sober. When I let self will run amok, I drink. It’s that simple. We need newcomers, old timers, sponsors, and service work.

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When I first joined AA and was told I should get into service work I was confused. What the f*ck is service work? So you’re telling me I have to go to a meeting almost everyday, donate a dollar or so at each meeting, and now you want me to work? But, having agreed upon entering AA that I was willing to listen and do what those before me have done I signed up for my first job. Making coffee at my home group. It sounded simple enough.

What I expected: do my time setting up for the meeting and at the end of my term call it a day. I’ve done my deed!

What I got: the gift of giving. AA has FREELY given me serenity, friendships, fellowship like I have never known, support, love and sobriety. I love setting up the coffee and tea station and being the first in the room when my friends start coming in with their big books, babies, and hugs. I love setting out our tattered “Daily Reflection” for the group to read together. I love being there at the end of the meeting piling up chairs and pushing tables back and talking about life with these women. I love going to the store and picking up the Sweet and Spicy Tea I know my friend in the program loves, or the hot chocolate the non-coffee drinkers like to sip on.

How has it benefited my sobriety? It keeps me accountable. I was trusted to hold the key to the church to be there each week to set up our meeting. It’s such a small thing I can do to give back and it truly helps keep me focused, just for that day anyways.

There are a lot of times I don’t want to go to a meeting because I am tired from working two jobs…but on my service work day I am “forced” to go in and I love every minute of it when I get there. Not once, has there been a meeting I attended where I didn’t hear something I needed to keep me sober that day.

Now I am taking it a step further, I have signed up to be the greeter at my Saturday morning meeting in addition to my coffee job and I am making a casserole for a speaker meeting/potluck I am attending. What is better in life than sharing food, coffee, and stories of our experience, strength and hope?

I will always hold a service position now because I am HONORED and GRATEFUL to give back to a program that saves lives everyday. Thanks AA.

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Great Suffering and Great Love.

Great Suffering and Great Love.

Happy Valentines Day! I know this holiday can stir a lot of emotions, both good and bad for a lot of people. I used to loathe this holiday when I would be coming fresh off a breakup, which always seemed to be my luck. Walking into the grocery store to be assaulted visually by pink, helium filled, heart balloons and teddy bears I wouldn’t be getting was like the nail in the coffin. Even a year ago today I wrote a blog that was eloquent and sincere, but was masked by the facade of strength. Pretending those pink heart balloons weren’t breaking my heart and making me ache deeply….even though they were. A year ago today I was suffering from extreme depression, heartache, and in the throes of my addiction. Wanting so badly to stop drinking but not knowing how I could possibly not go home and drink and watch Sex and the City when my heart was lying somewhere in my stomach and getting out of bed seemed impossible.

A year ago today I was one month single and although I was doing everything in my power to overcome it except the most important thing- abstaining from alcohol- I was in misery. I prayed, I meditated, I listened to self help books, I joined yoga, and I blogged my heart out. I had no idea that the pit in my stomach and heart would never fill because I was bankrupt spiritually and emotionally. I was doing SOME things right, but I wasn’t addressing my addiction. Then to throw me off track even further I met a boy. Well, more like a boy added me on Instagram and I took it upon myself to throw myself at him to an extent. Typical alcoholic and co-dependent behavior, filling one void with something else.

I have no regrets that I started the relationship when I did because the lessons I have learned from it are gifts from my higher power. Sometimes the gifts come cleverly disguised as catastrophes and many parts of my life were just that. I very much love my boyfriend and the time we are taking to focus on our own well being and sobriety.

I find myself reflecting and asking myself how have I grown, even if just a little bit in the past year? I am on a path to freedom and spiritual awakening through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have hit bottom and relapsed over and over again, but the message is clear, I cannot, nor will I ever be able to drink like a normal person can. My happiness is contingent on my spiritual well being. If I am sinking I better fix it fast, because alcohol is always there waiting to seduce me, no matter how much sober time I accumulate. I have found that with alcohol I am insane and with sobriety I have peace. I have found out how to communicate with others respectfully, put boundaries in place, stand up for myself, and pray for people who hurt me instead of taking it personally. All of this is stripped from me when I drink. I am learning how to be ok alone, how to fill my time with meaningful activities that don’t require validation from others. I am learning how to be genuine and true to the person I am.

The most important lesson I have learned though, and how fitting to write on it today, is that I cannot love someone right until I learned to love myself enough to get sober. I can’t stay sober for my boyfriend, my family, my friends, my sponsor, or any other reason. I have to stay sober because I love myself enough to do so. A year ago no one would have come to me-the queen of isolation and resentment- for advice. Today, I have women from all walks of life that message me to ask about AA, anxiety, and overcoming obstacles. Today when women come to me I do not answer with my ego, I pray and ask my higher power how I can guide them where they need to go to find their own healing. Selflessness for the  most part has disappeared, but only if I continue to work on my own healing. If there is contention in my life I say the serenity prayer instead of feeling sorry for myself, and if self pity finds its way into my heart I reach out to people to talk through it. I am only alone if I choose to isolate myself. The family I have made in AA will always be there should I reach out my hand to them.

This past year has been a journey that I needed every minute of. The extreme highs and the lowest lows. I have so much learning and growth to do but the door has opened and the key of willingness stays in my hand.

I have so much love and gratitude in my heart that I feel even through pain. I hope that if you loathe Valentines Day you look at it from a different perspective. The world lacks a lot of things, love and random acts of kindness included. Spread your love and light to others and it will come back to you. But most importantly, find great, big love for yourself.

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If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever.

If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever.

Today marks 7 years since my older brother chose to end his own life. In the past this day has been one of great sorrow and all I could do to cope was drink. The only way I could try to process the feelings and look for answers was by searching for them at the bottom of the bottle. The answers were never there and never will be, because my brother took them to the grave with him. The mess that suicide leaves behind is incomprehensible.

My brother’s girlfriend and two young daughters were the first to arrive on the scene (my brother shot himself.) His oldest daughter wrote this poem

“I came home I seen a mess you told me sorry but it doesn’t help, it doesn’t help. Why did you do this to me? So I just went outside to see the moon then I seen the stars. So reach for the stars and we’ll be all right. I promise you, so let’s reach for the stars we’ll be fine reaching for the stars, reaching for the stars.”
~Lexie Ellis

If little Lexie can find hope in the stars, so can I. I no longer want to be a part of the mess and the cycle of addiction and mental illness. This year I am choosing to honor his life with sobriety and sanity. I am going to laugh and cry in his memory, but I will not drown it with alcohol. I don’t talk to Dale much anymore and I feel compelled to today. Here is my open letter to him. Simply because if we keep quiet about the after math of suicide the stigma remains.

Dale,

I cannot believe it’s been seven years since I got the phone call that you had left us. So much has happened in that time, it feels like I have lived a whole lifetime split in two. A life with you in it and one without you. I have been married and divorced (you know the women in our family, it was destined to end badly the first time.) I have loved and lost. I have lost a lot. I know you have watched over me and seen me spiral out. I know you always had higher hopes for me because you always told me “you are the smart one in the family keep going in school and do something big”. I finally did it big brother! I graduated, become a real estate broker and I am sober. I enjoy my life and nurture my mental illness so that I can have a full and happy life that addiction and depression robbed you of. How I wish I could spend one more day with you in our tree fort without a care in the world other than swapping pogs and laughing…or terrorizing our sister on Burrito night. The laughs and the joy we had as children carry me through the dark days when I am missing you. I know I haven’t always clung to the happy times and have felt anger towards you for leaving us behind but I have come to peace with it. I saw a psychic (Dont even roll your eyes at me, we played with a Ouija board together for years) and she told me “he just wasn’t meant to be on this earth in this life for a long time. He is in the white light and at peace.” I believe that. You were a funny, caring, wild, and sensitive soul who just got lost somewhere along the way and had to be called home to do your work from afar. I feel your love wherever you are. When we meet again I imagine myself sitting with you in the kitchen and me making you a Pb&J because you said I make them best because of my OCD…”you put the peanut butter all the way to the edge of the crust”. Today I will focus on our laughter, perfect Pb&j sandwiches and no brown shoes.

xoxo Skully

 

If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out. You matter. Call 1-800-273-8255

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But You Don’t Look Like an Addict.

But You Don’t Look Like an Addict.

I want hit you with some cold hard facts about addiction.

There are myths and legends abound about what an addict is composed of, what we do, how we think, how we feel, what we deserve and what we don’t deserve. With all due respect…until you have experienced the dark depths that is addiction, you don’t know shit. We are ALL human’s and the degree of our suffering varies from individual to individual.

I am a 5’1″, blonde haired, blue eyed girl with a sunny disposition. I smile at every stranger I make eye contact with and car karaoke to Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. I meditate and pray to reiki music and use the healing touch of reiki to help others. I like to cook and walk on the beach and collect seashells. I hike and revel in the beauty that is the pacific northwest. In all senses I come across as a very “normal” and peaceful person. Just because the vessel that is carrying out these day to day motions looks calm and collected does not mean the soul that resides in it is calm. Stevie Nicks says “Never have I been a calm blue sea, I have always been a storm”. I am both. On the outside I am a calm sea, on the inside I am a storm. Not always…but that darkness is in there.

Addiction is not prejudiced. It touches the religious, the atheist, the broken and downtrodden, and the CEO’s of major companies. It grips women and men, young and old. It suffocates gays, straights, every national origin and race. It kills the rich, the poor, the beautiful and the ugly.

You get the point…addiction runs rampant like a tornado picking up and destroying anything that happens to be in its path. Now let’s talk about the aftermath. You have finally come down, fallen on your face which we refer to as our rock bottom and realize you can’t go on like this. This is when we tentatively walk into our first meeting with our eyes on the ground. Uncomfortable with the warmth and hugs being passed around between these humans that seem so different from you, who are actually the same as you. Laughter and joy swirls around the room on the wings of the scent of percolating coffee and you wonder how these people are so happy when they don’t “get to” drink? This is what they get to look forward to? Sitting in a circle talking about the shit show they have made of their life? You sit silently your first few meetings still digging your heels in the ground. Reading the book letting it flow in one ear and out the other. Sometimes, a lot of the the time, we relapse. Rock bottom comes faster and harder this time. A month has gone by and you’ve been on a bender that has left you shaky in the hands, weak in the knees, sick to  your stomach and ashamed. With heavy feet you walk back into that room and as if time hasn’t touched anything, they are all still there. Hugging, laughing, and sipping their coffee. Still happy, still not “getting to” drink…and then you realize…its because of their lack of drinking, its because of their supporting hugs, emotional outpouring, and acknowledgement that they are the ones smiling. A little bell goes off in your brain, you lift your heels out of the mud and you pick that book back up with a new drive to learn how to do this too. A week goes by and you are almost out of the woods with your withdrawals. The night sweats are gone, your mind is more clear and you are soaking up the message AA (or NA) has to offer and opening up your wounds to begin healing them from the inside out. You begin to have a subtle obsession with recovery rather than alcohol or drugs. All of a sudden free coffee and women’s meetings are you new liquor store. You feel euphoria walking into church rooms and hugging those women and men who not long ago felt like weird, foreign creatures. They are now your family. Your friends. Your life line.

All that sounds rosy and fantastic and like the happy ending of the story has come. The truth is the ending never comes for an addict. I do not desire to drink, but I crave the drink. I don’t want to be drunk, but I miss being drunk. To “normies” that makes no sense and is a total contradiction but I guarantee most addicts will understand….we know we cant drink and we really don’t want to, but yes we do. I know I can’t sit on my deck and watch the sunset with a glass of wine. It never ends that peacefully and it is not a moment of serenity. The first glass of wine turns into two bottles and a hellacious mental ordeal. At one of my women’s meetings we read a story in the big book and this line from it knocked the wind out of me with its truth “that special relationship with alcohol will always be there, waiting to seduce me again. I can stay protected by continuing to be an active member of AA”. So you see, the work of the 12 steps never ends. The choice to stay sober is a DAILY choice. We do recover but it is an everyday effort. You cannot give us a pill and we are magically cured. Actually, if there were a pill we would probably become addicted to that.

When we speak about recovery we speak with gratitude, joy, and appreciation. We rarely talk about the parts we all know to be true though. We feel anger, stress, desire to give up, we scream into our pillow “why am I like this”, and we sit in the midst of emotions we have suppressed with booze or pills that are now crashing over us like waves that want to take our life. But this recovery thing is a journey….the ending of this journey doesn’t come until the vessel that carries our soul has expired. But I promise that journey will fill you far more than any substance ever could.

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FOURTEEN DAYS SOBER!

FOURTEEN DAYS SOBER!

I don’t have a ton of time to write, and it certainly isn’t anything profound but it’s important to me. Today marks 14 days sober. The longest amount of consecutive days since 18 years old that not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips! Tomorrow is the start of August and I cannot wait to hit that 30 day mark and celebrate my birthday with my sisters in recovery!

This has been such an amazing journey in just two weeks I cannot imagine how my life is going to be months and years in. I owe my life and sanity to Alcoholics Anonymous.

It really is about taking it one day at a time, working the steps, going to meetings, talking to your sponsor and chatting your higher power’s ear off. If you don’t work the program it doesn’t work. This time I am dedicated to my recovery and my healing and it is paying off. Slowly, surely, and day by day.

Thank you for never giving up on me Universe/God/Goddess.

 

 

Don’t You Worry Your Pretty Little Mind, People Throw Rocks at Things That Shine.

Don’t You Worry Your Pretty Little Mind, People Throw Rocks at Things That Shine.

Most of my blog followers and friends know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and write from it. I am an open book, sharing my struggles, triumphs, lows, highs and everything in between. I have a public Instagram because I found when I turned the privacy setting off, an abundance of like minded people started following, commenting and liking my posts. I have found some truly inspirational pages since making my account public. I used to hide my heart and my social media due to fear. Fear of rejection, fear of being followed by people I didn’t want to see my life, and fear of bullies.

Recently some unsavory people from the past have been cropping up and my first instinct was to make my Instagram private and not blog. Then I went to an AA meeting and a line from the passage we were reading in the big book spoke to me…”Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.” – The Big Book. This is the mentality I have taken on my blog posts about not only alcoholism and recovery but also recovering from broken hearts, anxiety, mental illness, and eating disorders. I also like to openly share the joys in my life because if this blog alone can span from darkness to light so can your life…that is why I write candidly and openly. Maybe somewhere these words are making an impact through sharing experience, strength and hope on all aspects of life.

Yesterday was a rough day emotionally. I took my real estate broker’s exam and failed by 5 points. Following that there was an onslaught of unnecessary drama and work was a struggle. I picked up the phone and called my sponsor and she was a voice of reason in the midst of chaos. She gave me page numbers to read in the big book to re-direct my faith and I felt like the load was lighter. Off an on throughout the day the waves of anxiety crashed over me and I kept repeating in my head what she told me…”It is none of your business what other people think about you or do. You know the truth about you and your higher power knows the truth.” Isn’t that the truth? People can form opinions of you based on emotions they are feeling, but that is a reflection of their heart, not yours. I have been a target of stalking and bullying for a long time and I could never figure out why. A specific example of the kind of messages that have been plaguing my inbox “I’m glad you finally admitted you are an alcoholic instead of being a fake bitch.” At first I was hurt when I read those words. Because yes I was in denial about my disease for a very long time. But I’m not anymore, so all I can do is agree with you messenger…I am really glad I admitted I’m an alcoholic too. To the people who don’t like me who might be reading this I am sure they are thinking in their head that I get targeted because I’m a bitch, I’m this, I’m that. But the only thing that can come to my mind is “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind, people throw rocks at things that shine” – Taylor Swift.  I am not perfect by any means. I have petty moments, sassy moments, I throw tantrums, and I have insecurities. I even quote Taylor Swift. The difference is that I make attempts everyday to overcome my human defects to the best of my ability by spreading light into the world and that includes sharing my life story.

So, as of today the Instagram is back to public, the blogging will commence. I cannot promise you will always agree with me and more often than not you will probably be shakin’ your head thinking “this mess”….and that’s OK. I want to be alive and free in my own skin no matter how flawed it may be…with the hope that someone, somewhere is taking something away with them.

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Experiencing the Rawness of Living Through Sobriety.

Experiencing the Rawness of Living Through Sobriety.

The universe is throwing me curve-balls left and right this past week but I have been whacking them out of the park with grace, dignity, and sobriety.

This calm and peace came to me after my women’s meeting last Wednesday. Not only did I find a sponsor but we worked on step 3 of the 12 steps and that is surrendering our power over to God, or a higher power as we know it and acknowledging we are not in control of our addiction and our lives. This step on my own was very difficult to work through but hearing the women talk about how they tackle this step and utilize it really made me sit back, let out a deep breath and surrender my power. Since then even in moments of chaos I feel calm because I have accepted I am not the one in control. Not my circus, not my monkeys type of thing. When toxic people have started cropping back up in my life instead of allowing myself to get angry or emotional I ask myself “does their behavior have anything to do with me or is a reflection of the person I am?” The answer is always NO…leaving me free to go about my day and focus on my recovery.

I won’t lie and say the hard moments didn’t make me cry or feel anxious. One thing about sobriety is you actually FEEL everything again. The good, the bad and all of it in between. Your heart, soul and mind isn’t bogged down by alcohol or a hangover so you get to experience the rawness of living. This was what used to terrify me the most about sober living, but to be completely honest it’s been refreshing. A solid reminder that I am a human. I am flesh, blood, and a soul….no longer a zombie crawling towards my next fix. I no longer have to schedule every little thing I do around alcohol and “drinking times”. I am ALIVE.

Being this high on life has carried me through the obstacles that have been challenging me. I have so much optimism, hope and warmth in my heart that I don’t feel like I can be stopped. I am not perfect (or as we say in AA, we are not saints) but I am working the program as I know how with diligence and heart.

Some people have had some things to say about me being in the program, actually cutting me down for it…but they are still active in their addiction so I am letting it slide right off me and am praying for their well-being. Even if they are psychopaths, they deserve sobriety just as much as the next person.

This week my focus is working the steps, attending the meetings, meeting up with my sponsor and taking it one day at a time.  My sponsor always says “don’t say, I only have this many days, or this many hours…all we are promised is 24.”

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