New Year, New Me

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.

At the beginning of 2013, I couldn’t have predicted how the year would end.  I was in the belly of my addiction, with a court date looming that threatened to take away my driver’s license.  Although the charges were unrelated to alcohol, alcoholism put me in the position that I was in.  At the beginning of 2013, I was scared and saw no hope on the horizon.

As we get closer to packing 2013 into a box and putting it on a shelf, I am amazed at how differently the year is ending as compared to how it started.  I am 294 days sober, the ever-present anxiety is gone and my family relationships are improving every day.

Much of 2013 was focused on staying sober.  “To any lengths.”  While that emotional journey needs to continue, I’m feeling solid enough in sobriety to shift some of the focus towards my physical well-being.  For decades, I’ve berated myself for needing to lose weight.  I’ve allowed myself to yo-yo throughout my life and it’s time to take hold of that issue the way I’ve taken hold of alcoholism.

When standing at the top of the calendar, looking down, it’s impossible to predict how the year’s going to unfold.  I know that I have the ability to make changes, as proven in 2013.  I’m ready to jump in with both feet and do the work.  For me though, it all comes back to staying sober.  In sobriety, I have the capacity to run forward and achieve.  Without sobriety, I won’t just stand still, but will quickly fall backwards.  When my mind is clear (that is, clear of the alcoholic voice), the choice is dead easy: keep running.  Er, considering I’m a Canadian in December: “the choice is dead easy: keep skiing, eh!”



Day 280: Recovery and Reflections

Snow Globe Coaster

The metaphor of a rollercoaster works in my life in a couple of ways.  Most notably, in describing the ups and downs associated with bipolar II.  Another is in describing my commitment to any given task: I start out fully devoted and inevitably my enthusiasm wanes.

While this is likely a flaw that is connected with my ADHD, it’s something that I need to manage.  I used to allow myself to walk away from various undertakings, fooling myself into believing that I was simply “moving on.”  I can look back through the decades and see the wreckage in my life caused by “moving on” from various paths.

My weight has yo-yo’d a record-breaking number of times through my life because I easily abandon a healthy lifestyle that I’ve worked hard towards.  I’m back at the top of this particular rollercoaster: tracking calories, habitually hitting the gym, white-knuckling through the late-night Cheerio cravings.

I am nervous to admit that my enthusiasm for AA is waning.  The reservations I had about the program going in, seemed to melt away for a few months, giving me a calm acceptance of the rituals.  Today, I’m starting to feel some of those reservations surface again.  I see the dedication that some of these people have; 40 years of sobriety and they still attend 2-3 meetings a week.  Wait, what?

All of the speakers I’ve heard recently, while they were terrific storytellers, all of the stories were the same: “I was an atheist before I came to AA and once I opened the door a crack to my higher power, it was all I needed.  Now I believe.”  Great story, but the cynic in me is starting to sound the warning bell on this cult.

Part of what allowed me to be such a good alcoholic is that I’m always searching for an easy fix.  At the end of the year, I’ll start medication to control the ADHD.  I’m looking to this as a fix-all: one easy pill and I’ll be focused!  Not likely.

Ah the rollercoaster of life: managing daily responsibilities with a spinning mind and a thirst for vodka.  No wonder I’ve amounted to nothing in my 37 years; I allow life to hurtle along without any management.  Instant gratification has been my engine.  There’s so much work to do and my enthusiasm is fading.

Day 274: Recovery and Reflections

Christmas Light StrandIt’s starting to get busier out there: traffic is thicker, stores are close to frenzied, and routine activities take just a little longer than usual.  Add on the extra responsibilities of party planning, more grocery shopping, gift shopping, and domestic decorating, and it’s a potential mix for disaster for any alcoholic.

This isn’t the first year I’ve been aware of the pressures of the holidays, but it is the first year I haven’t drank through them.  Granted, getting things done is a lot easier sober (and not to mention all of the time I save avoiding the liquor store lineups), but for the first time, I’m forced to feel the pressure.

My strategy for getting through (and hopefully enjoying) the holidays is to take is easy on myself.  Except for swapping out a few paintings on the walls, I’m not decorating the house.  No tree, no lights, no guilt.  I’ve left the tree in the basement before, but I’ve always beat myself up over it.  “Oh I should put up the tree; that’s what normal people do; I’m so lazy.”  Not this year.

Another strategy is to take a lot of time off work at the end of this month.  As crazy as it sounds, I’ve been going through this process for the past 274 days without taking time off work.  Sure, I’ve taken a 1/2 day here and there for appointments and errands, but I still have over a week of vacation left this year.  Strategically placed around stat holidays, I’ll end up with 12 days off at Christmas.

I’m looking forward to a scaled-back holiday season this year; one without guilt for scaling it back.  In AA there are a lot of sayings and catch-phrases.  “One day at a time” hasn’t resonated with me before, but it does now.  It’s so easy to get wrapped-up (no pun intended) in planning multiple gatherings and scheduling the shopping madness, but I think when it comes to looking ahead to the stressors of the holidays, I will take it “one day at a time.”