Tag Archives: addiction

The Power of Prayer (and a Pint of Ben and Jerry’s)

13 Feb

Several years ago, I was seated next to a woman at a birthday dinner for a friend. I knew her, but not well.  I had heard she was going through a rough separation with her husband but didn’t know the details.  She had three small children and when I had seen her occasionally around the neighborhood, she looked like she had been through the ringer.  During our conversation, she opened up and told me about her situation.  It was a terrible story which involved her husband having a drug addiction she was unaware of and spending most of their savings, getting deeper and deeper in debt to his habit.  As I listened in disbelief and sympathy, I asked her how in the world she got through it.  She told me that she didn’t get through it alone.  She said that she felt as though someone, or something, picked her up and helped her to be able to carry on with each day to do what she needed to for her children and herself.  She told me that she felt God’s presence and that she was convinced that it was He who provided her with the strength she needed at her worst hour.  Having had several cocktails already, I tried to keep myself from outwardly displaying through facial expressions or body language that I thought she was completely nuts.  Um, yeah, ok…some strange force picked you up and carried you through your day.   And I suppose there were little green men helping you push your shopping cart at the grocery store as well.

After that night, I think I only saw her one other time.  I heard that she and her husband reconciled, that he got help and was able to beat his addiction, and they managed to keep their family together.  They also spent a great deal of time focusing on their faith and good fortune, which they believed was brought to them by God.  I didn’t think about this woman for years, until recently.  And I can honestly say that now I get it.  I completely understand what she meant when she said that something much greater and more powerful than anything she had ever known lifted her up and carried her until she could stand again on her own two feet.

Growing up, the extent of my religious practices involved reluctantly going to church on major holidays, like Christmas and Easter, and trying to stay awake.  I knew nothing about the Bible, Christianity, or theology. More importantly, I knew nothing about spirituality, or the fact that spirituality and religion are two completely separate things.   After getting married in the Catholic church, and especially after our children were born, I started to attend church much more regularly.  But still, only when things got rough, or when dealing with the loss of a loved one, did I turn my glance upwards, mostly looking for answers.  Then there were the many times, usually while paying homage to the porcelain god after a night of mixing drinks, that I either asked God to help me stop feeling so sick or vowed to Him that I would never drink again.  That never lasted very long.

When I took my last drink almost 21 months ago, the realization that I could never, ever pick up a drink again was beyond overwhelming.  It seemed downright impossible.  Add to that the knowledge that no one could do this for me, or really do anything to help but be there to support me, and that’s more than rubbing salt in the wound.  There was no magic pill that a doctor could prescribe.  There was no therapist who could magically remove the compulsion to drink.  There was no trainer, life coach, personal assistant, clergy, shaman, or magic wand.  There was only me.  And, when I was ready to know, understand and trust it, my Higher Power (HP).

I often think that if I only knew when raising my first child what I now know while raising the third, my life would have been so much calmer.  But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.  While I was immersed in diapers, nursing, bottles, spit-up, and sleepless nights, I couldn’t see that if I only took a deep breath and calmed down, I could have enjoyed that precious time alone with a beautiful new life.  By the time I got to my third child, I wasn’t obsessed about sanitizing a pacifier after it fell to the ground, or as much of a sleep-nazi about nap time and schedules.   He got thrown into his carseat, whatever time of day, to shuttle the other two kids around to their activities.  He had to just go with the flow. In fact, I would often just put the baby down for a while in his little playpen and just let him be…without hovering over him to make sure he was still breathing every few minutes!

Similarly, if I had only known during those first few weeks or sobriety what I know now, it would not have been quite as torturous.  Don’t get me wrong, it still would have been pure hell, but the knowledge I have now certainly would have helped.  Admitting having a life that is unmanageable due to an addiction to alcohol is the first huge step.  Understanding that you cannot fully recover from that addiction without turning to, and relying on, your HP is the next crucial turn.  That’s the magic bullet.  The power of determination helps.  The power of friendship and support helps.  The power of inner strength helps.  But the power of prayer heals.

When I started to understand that if I was willing to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, the road to recovery would be much smoother.  There will still be many bumps and potholes, but that belief and willingness helps to pave a smoother path.  I used to sit in church and during the quiet prayer time after communion, I would hold my head in my hands and cry silently.  I was miserable.  And usually hungover as it was a Sunday morning.  I positioned myself physically as far away from anyone, including my family, as I possibly could, even in the same pew.  I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone.  I chose to sit and drown in my depression.  I asked God for help.  But it didn’t come.  On my terms anyway…

As I learned more and more during my recovery, and truly trusted in turning things over to my HP, I started to see the magic at work.  I noticed that somehow I would hear something from a friend (angel?) on a day when that was exactly what I needed to hear.  And I actually was listening for a change.  I realized that the people who surrounded me where there for a specific reason.  A kind word of support or pat on the back worked wonders for my will to fight on.  I saw that the fortuitous encounter with a well-respected pastor with whom I shared my story recently was probably no accident.

I have prayed for strength for my recovery and I am still sober, 626 days later.  I have prayed for support and understanding from family and friends and I have that.  I have prayed for healing and learning to forgive myself and I am on the right path.  I have prayed for guidance with some tough situations and have gotten it.  I have prayed for the ability to sit quietly and listen and I’m getting better at that. Sometimes I will need a kick in the head to remember to turn to prayer and my HP when things get really rough, but hopefully I will get that kick too from the people who care about me and whom God has put in my life to help me.  As for the pint of Ben and Jerry’s, that can help immensely as well.







25 Apr

Welcome to my blog, Sobrietease.   People have been telling me for quite some time that I should start a blog.  So here I am.  Doing it.  Won’t be perfect.  If I wait for that, it will never happen.  So bear with me as I write, post, share, confess and, well, blog.

Why this blog?  I’m just your average 43-year old suburban mom.  But I have stories to share and lessons to pass on. Many of them not so average.  My problems are no more or less significant than anyone else’s–we all have our crosses to bear.   I think it is how I have chosen to deal with mine that is worth sharing.  Most helpful of all, laughter helps me through the difficult and dark times.  I have been given an incredible opportunity—a second chance to live out the rest of my life in much happier and much better way.  My hope is that you will find something somewhere one day in my blog that will strike a chord with you and help you in some way to find yourself in a happier, better place too.

As they say, laugher is the best medicine.  It is my new addiction.  It may seem heartless to laugh at or mock some of life’s most serious trials and tribulations.  What’s the alternative?  I’ve tried pulling the covers over my head and hiding in my bed, several times.  I always have to come out for one reason or another.  I’ve tried “sweeping” everything under the carpet.  Works great for a while, until the pile of crap that has been swept under the carpet gets too large to hide under there any more and explodes.  I’ve tried to blame others or the circumstances or the way that the planets were aligned at that particular time.   I’ve tried to alter my perception of reality.  That worked the best.  For a long, long time.  And then I woke up and realized that it was, in fact, the worst.

Drinking was a blast.  It was a way of everyday life.  To me, it was right up there with  eating and breathing.  Every function, event, celebration, win, loss, mourning, chore, meeting, discussion, creative endeavor, relaxation, motivation…..you name it, was not only conducive to drinking, it was centered around it.  I was pretty much a happy drunk.  Life of the party (or at least I thought I was).  With the first sip, my inhibitions and insecurities started to wash away.  If one sip allowed that deep exhale of self-doubt and self-loathing to begin to seep out, more sips could only widen the opening and facilitate the escape.  That warm, fuzzy feeling came quickly.   Not far behind was the ability to throw care to the wind–the “fuck it” period as I liked to call it.  All things that should have been done, obligatory crap and responsibilities, took a backseat.  I could rationalize anything.  You only live once.  I’m having fun now, who cares about anything else.  Things looked so much better and brighter.  I loved everyone more, especially myself, after the first 750ml worked their magic.  It could only go downhill from there.  And it did.

I’m reminded of that predictable line at the end of every Scooby-Doo episode– I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.  There was always a meddling something, most often a nasty hangover involving an unprescribed and unwanted dose of reality.  I also thought I was excellent at pretending I wasn’t hungover and would act extra chipper on those mornings.  Friends who knew me well, however, knew the signs of how bad my hangover was.  A single Diet-Coke was usually your average, run-of-the mill hangover.  A regular Coke was bad news.  Walking around with a plastic cup with a top on it, in case I had to puke, was, well, pathetic.  It was comical for a while.  Even funnier to make it to later in the day when I could dive headfirst into the hair of the dog.  And the hamster wheel kept turning.

No harm, no foul was the motto I went by.  Until things did become more “meddlesome”.   Appointments that were missed either because they were forgotten, not written down, or written down completely illegibly or incoherently, or because I was simply too hungover to go. Working out wasn’t an option when the idea of any sort of physical exertion was equated to doubling over vomiting.  I had an unusually frequent occurrence of “headaches”, “bad cramps”, “stomach bugs”,”hangnails”…you name it, that prevented me from doing things.

Conversations were forgotten.  Promises made went unkept.  I was reminded often that I had already told someone something or had done something that I had forgotten.  All could be excused somehow.  The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was when my 10-year old daughter said to me “don’t you remember we talked about that last night?”.   I don’t ever remember feeling more ashamed. That was when I knew things had to change. And they did.

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