Could I be overly hopeful? Is it possible to hope my way into the arms of denial? I intensely believe deep in my heart that some day soon I will be free of living with chronic pain and discomfort. However, I’ve seen my pattern – when I receive an invitation from different friends – I hear my reply:
“Yes! I’d love to go to your beach party!”
“Yes! I’d love to visit with you.”
“Yes! I’d love to go to Santa Barbara to see your son graduate college.”
But when the day arrives, I still do not feel well and I find myself once more feeling betrayed by my own body. Does my hope make me look like a flake? Am I too embarrassed to say I have barely left the house the entire summer? Yet, I make every attempt to heal my intestine. Never stopping the footwork. I push myself through the darkness. I am weak from being in pain for such a long endless time.
I went back to my G.I. specialist – again. I saw his concern as soon as he looked at me. I’ve lost 15 pounds. I know I have become too thin. I hoped he wouldn’t notice. He was well thought out in his conversation. He is aware I have also been going to a naturopath. I will not go into details – because only time will tell – but he made a suggestion of a new medicine. I have a large file of years of documentation of my medical history and no other doctors, even at USC Medical Center, have ever suggested this medicine. I agreed. It took 2 days for the medicine to come in to the pharmacy. Again, only time will tell. I am trying not to think about it.
In the mean time, it has been a long summer and I have become overly protective of myself. Who do I dare let into the safety zone behind my delicate white picket fence that is my only protection? I must choose to surround myself with kind, loving and supportive people. My body is weak, but my will and my spiritual contact is strong. I am isolated, but I am not alone. I am aware that I can not afford the luxury of being negative, or thoughts full of self-pity. It does not help me.
I am an alcoholic woman in recovery. I am not perfect – but because I have been sober for a long time, I am acutely aware that I have everything I need to get to the other side of this time. The other side of this year. I believe I will have a deeper level of compassion and understanding towards others. Developing my character is not such a bad thing.
I remember the me of long ago. . . I used to be a long neck beer, tequilla shooting kinda gal one night – then a lady who drank fine wine over dinner with a gorgeous gentleman the next night. Perhaps it depended on if I was wearing my old cowboy boots, or my new open toed high heel pumps. But, the “drink” would be in the center of my night, not realizing that I did everything I could to form myself around that drink. Time and time again I grew blindly confused when I turned a fun night into a remorseful morning as I helplessly let alcohol be in charge of me.
Way back then, going to the laundry mat meant putting quarters, detergent and a cold beer in my laundry basket. Or going to a Jack-in-the-Box drive through to buy a coke meant pulling over to the side of the road, dumping out half of the coke in the street and filling it back up with my bottle of rum that fit in my purse. I thought I was so clever, witty and fun. And I did this when my son was with his father or the baby sitter, so I felt I was being a responsible mom. Alcohol was the nucleus of my life, and I was too ill and dizzy to see I was caught in its orbit – floating through my day with no say or control – ignoring my intended path “just for now”.
Finally – by God’s grace – I had had enough. That young confused woman from 24 years ago no longer defines who I am. Yes, it is who I was, but I have grown and stayed on my intended path. When I had my last drink (a beer) early that faithful morning, I had lost track of who I was and what I believed in. How did I become a woman, a mother, who didn’t even know why she did the things she did? I had a black out during the evening at some point. Later that morning, as soon as I stopped feeling nauseous and ashamed of myself, I picked up my precious and pure baby son from his father’s home. It was my birthday and my son’s father took a picture of my son and me. I forced a fake and painful smile.
Yes, I remember who I was quite clearly, but that no longer defines who I am today. I got out – I asked for help. I followed direction. The only time I was joyful was when I was being a mom to my son. I loved him more than I loved myself. Then other times when I was at work, I felt so anxious I could not believe it! Not drinking was so difficult for me!
“Well, this most certinally is a screwed up deal. What if I made a mistake? What if I am not an alcoholic? I am restless and discontent so much of my day.” But I wanted to be sober more than I wanted to have a drink.
Slowly, one moment at a time, I don’t know if life got better, but I do know that “I” got better. My experience has taught me that it takes a long time to get screwed up and making unhealthy choices is a hard habit to break. It takes a long time to get well after one stops drinking. But I had a better chance of getting well because I asked for help and I did not do it alone. I started to let go of people who were just like the old me – and instead I started to find people who I wanted to be like – people who I admired.
As months turned into years and I became healthier in mind, body and spirit – and enjoying a full and healthy life full of laughter with my son – bike rides, homework, playing basket ball, taking surfing lessons together – at the peak of finding my freedom and loving who I really was – I woke up with an odd stomach ache one morning in 1997. I was 10 years sober and in love with a man I never would have noticed if I was still drinking, my son was 12, my bills were finally paid off, I had been taking college classes for the first time in my life – and that morning is when my life started to change its course, again. . . . . .
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