A Rebel is Reveling in the Change (of her Closet)

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The “She Shed”…

Have you watched the show “Tidying Up” on Netflix yet? It’s a reality show with tidying expert, Marie Kondo, helping families and couples “purge” their homes of any and all things that do not bring them joy. When all is said and done, her clients have developed new habits in maintaining tidy, functioning living spaces AND have reignited joy, happiness and harmony in their homes.

For me, finding this show was a game-changer.  Because, see, I am more or less a fucking slob.

That’s right. I am.

That’s not self-deprecating language either, it’s the truth. I’m not even going to try to blame “part-time working motherhood” because the fact of the matter is, I’ve been this way my entire life.  I have always played “catch up” with the messes I have created for myself to clean up.

The worse my house gets, the more daunting the task of tidying becomes.  I find myself paralyzed, not knowing where to begin; cursing myself for even allowing it to get so bad. Beating myself up for not “maintaining” like I said I would do.

When that negative self-talk takes my mind hostage, I accomplish nothing and the house gets worse. It reaches a point where I cannot take another day living in such chaos, so what do I do? I attack and I attack HARD. I’ll spend the entire day putting my house “back together” and feel a massive weight lifted.

Until it goes to shit again and I’m back to where I started.

Disaster → Fix → Relax → Repeat.

Since obtaining valuable tips and tools from the show, my home has become more manageable. However, with young kids in the house, I gotta stay on top of it. I MUST implement daily tasks to keep my home from “falling apart.”

And THAT my friends, is the story of my life when it comes to treating my alcoholism. While I haven’t drank in (ALMOST) 7 years almost 9 years, I’m still an alcoholic. I always will be.

I no longer have a drinking problem but I will always have a thinking problem and thinking problem can make or break my day. Every.Single.Day.

Just like my home, if I get complacent on my spiritual program of action, things go down for me real quick.  I don’t drink but I engage in other thinking and behavioral problems that make life…well…unmanageable.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that this blog was conceived in my closet and that my closet represents my life as a dry drunk and alcoholic in recovery. I have spent the past year and 3 months transforming both : purging, organizing, and holding onto things that I am not ready to let go of yet – in my closet and in my recovery.

In Skeletons Part 1, I talk about what my drinking and recovery was like before deciding to take my life back.

In Skeletons Part 2, I talk about what happened to land me in the rooms of AA and my desire for change in recovery.

I was 4 months shy of 6 years without a drink when this blog was born and a LOT has gone down – leaps of faith, secrets revealed, therapy and lots of “getting honest with myself.”  And here we are now in Skeletons Part 3: What (by God’s Grace) it’s Like Now.

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And let me tell you…

…I LOVE the changes so far.

But there is still work to be done. There will always be work to be done.

Recovery is a lifelong journey that I am so grateful to have finally embraced: striving to be a better human being than I was the day before.

One.

Day.

At.

A.

Time.

#morewillberevealed

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 My “Cloffice”

Ps.  My “Cloffice” is being “remodeled” again!  3 years since this blog was born and I’m still working in my closet.  I can’t wait to show you!

I’m a Yeller :(

I will never forget the first time I yelled at A1. A2 was a newbie, less than 3 months old and A1 was 2 ½. Us 3 girls were home doing laundry up in the small hallway of our townhouse while H was at work. I was still using a gate at the top of the stairs, A1 was “running loose” and A2 was in the bouncer being the precious little angel baby that she was.

A1 was a jealous big sister and she wasted no time in showing me too. I had no idea WTF I was doing but was telling myself I did, so I assured H he could go back to work when A2 was just 8 days old.

H: Are you sure?

P: Totally. I got this.

But did I?

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Nursing in a glider. Not a couch. Not a stationary chair. A chair that moved.

Yeaahhhh no I didn’t and that was just the beginning.

A1 was VERY affectionate towards A2 – in such a way that I was scared of her smothering her.  Of course she wouldn’t, not in front of me anyway but what I’m trying to get at is this: I could NOT keep A1 OFF of A2.

So we’re in the hallway, I’m tired and hungry, A1 is running amok, getting in A2’s face every 5 seconds and I’m cursing myself for ever having children because now I have even MORE laundry.  And then it happened.

I didn’t see it coming.

It came out of nowhere.

I yelled.

And it was loud.

Loud enough that I scared all 3 of us. I felt like shit IMMEDIATELY. I don’t recall feeling triggered to drink at that moment but I do know I went to a meeting that night.  On the way, however, I stopped to bring a snack to share and was overcome with self-pity. Why?

Because the patrons in front and behind me in line were buying alcohol and I was not. I didn’t even REALLY want to drink but started to cry in line knowing that they got to drink and I couldn’t. It had now been 3+ years since my last drink and here I was sulking over being an alcoholic and wishing SO badly (and still thinking maybe) I wasn’t. Remember, I was a dry drunk and would remain that way for another year and 7 months.

What do you think would have happened that evening had I succumbed to my emotions and decided to drink; or any other time I found myself overcome with great sorrow over the fact that I was an alcoholic and couldn’t “take the edge off” like normal drinkers? I shudder at the thought.

I remember what I was like when I drank and I was atrocious. If you’re a new reader, you can read my “drunkalogue” in Skeletons Part 1 by visiting the My Story page.  

Aside from drunk driving, did I tell you about the time I utilized a deadly weapon in a drunken stupor? This was, of course, before I quit drinking. I was hammered and out of my mind. I was CONVINCED H had taken my phone and hid it IN the couch.  It didn’t matter what he said, I KNEW IT and the longer he denied it, the more volatile I got. Next thing I knew, I had a knife in my hand. Not a butter knife or a steak knife, a big ass, “I will cut you” knife. I took that thing and sliced open our couch only to find that he was telling the truth – my phone was not in the couch.  No no no, turns out, it was in the bathroom and I’m pretty sure I hid it from myself.

That’s the shit alcohol makes me do.

I’m reckless, out of control and downright dangerous.

THAT’S why CPS would be knocking on my door if I was drinking today.  There is seriously no telling what I would do in moments of anger but I know what I’m capable of and it’s terrifying to even fathom.

So when tempers run high in high stress, anxiety stricken moments with my girls, I don’t drink and smoke weed instead because MJ doesn’t have that effect on me. It aids in keeping me in check when my brain is in overdrive.  It IS a tool in MY recovery toolbox and like I said, it’s not my only tool or the first one I pick up either.

But back then, it was and that’s just how my story goes.

I love my story. And guess what…

…it keeps getting better and better.

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons Part 2.12 – My Recovery Relaxed

Relaxed (past) – “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” – phrase used in AA.

I distinctly remember the first time I decided I wasn’t going to go to meetings for a while and didn’t know if I was going to come back after I gave birth..  I was VERY pregnant, sitting in a meeting with my legs spread wide open and a human being beating the shit out of my insides. I was done. I was done being pregnant and I was done with AA.

My meeting attendance in early recovery was relatively consistent due to the fact that I needed signatures. After A2 was born, I went on my terms. I was now 3+ years without a drink and back to my recreational usage of MJ. I still harbored the same resentments towards AA and remained one foot in, one foot out. I simply wasn’t ready to work on myself because I didn’t think I had to.

I was self-will run riot and unwilling to accept what I couldn’t change (people, places and things) or have the courage to change what I could (myself!) and God wasn’t having it. My relaxed recovery was about to get an overhaul and I had no idea it was going to look how it does today.

But God did and stuff had to happen first.

In August of 2017, I hit a wall that brought me to my knees, only this time, I wasn’t drinking. In the months that followed, I was living in a perpetual emotional hangover that gave me the desperation I needed to hand my will back over to God.

You wanna know what happened, don’t you? I know, I know, I would too. Fine, I’ll tell give you the condensed, vague version in the form of…that’s right…a list:

  1. Certain aspects of my existence had become unmanageable.
  2. I started to pray and meditate like my life depended on it…because it did.
  3. I saw the need for change and decided it was officially time I defect from AA, announced it in a private recovery group on social media, and sought professional help for my outside issues that had nothing to do with drinking.
  4. Considered drinking AT my issues a couple of times and went to a meeting right away instead.
  5. One of those times was when I decided to tell a bunch of strangers one of my BBS’s and walked away with a glimmer of hope for my place in AA.
  6. Confessed to women I DID know in a house meeting and walked away with even more hope; enough to compel me to seek out a temporary sponsor while I “figured it out.” The woman I asked said yes under conditions I wasn’t willing to adhere to.
  7. Attended meetings off and on, getting more and more annoyed at the “all or nothing” mentality, suggesting that people in recovery are not really sober if they are using marijuana – medicinally or recreationally – and that they would need to start their date over if/when they decided to quit.
  8. Started this blog and was doing recovery without a sponsor or meetings, using all the tools I had learned in AA the past 6 years (as of March 30th, 2018) and was still in therapy.
  9. Found a private FB community and support group for people who also use cannabis in recovery – recreationally and as a harm reduction tool.
  10. Things happened that would not allow me to close the door on AA for good. For example, I found out that the maid of honor I talk about in Skeletons 1.9 had been reading my blog and that she’s ALSO in the program. Are you kidding me!? She instantaneously became Birdie #6. B6, you know WTF you are.
  11. Was met with nothing but support when I told her about my BBS. That same day, B3 strongly encouraged me (again) to stop judging myself and come back to the rooms.
  12. 2 days later, after a long sabbatical from meetings, I got honest in my former home group and claimed my seat; offering to be of service in any way that I could and that I was praying for a sponsor.  

Can you guess what happened next?

I’ll give you a hint…

..a miracle.

#morewillberevealed

My Relapse – Part 3

Relapse #3: I don’t remember what I had but I want to say it was another ½ mini-box of wine? Or maybe 2 mini bottles from a 4 pack? Weird I don’t know specifics because this was the least I had drank of all the relapses since my DUI.  Hubs came home earlier than expected. Since it was such a small amount, I really didn’t think he’d notice.

But he did. He asked. I lied.

H: “Why do I not believe you?”

P: I don’t know because I haven’t.

H: Okay then. Let’s go to your car and you blow in your breathalyzer.

P: (yep, I’m screwed) Okay, let’s go.

H: (sigh) nooo, it’s alright, I guess I believe you.

ANOTHER bullet dodged and man, was I sweating!  I decided right then and there that I couldn’t risk it again because the next consequence would be him leaving me – even though he never once said that he would.

See, that’s where my brain can go sometimes. Immediately to the worst case scenario with nothing to back it up. Like a hypochondriac (which I can also admit that I am to some extent) thinks they are at death’s door when they experience unfamiliar symptoms they cannot explain, I was foretelling the death of my marriage. It’s just so dramatic (eye roll).

I decided I’d wait a while.  I’d complete the 6 week outpatient rehab program, the dust would settle and I’d drink again when it fizzled into something we just didn’t talk about. You know, sweep it under the rug like it never happened. Story of my life.

But I haven’t.

My new date was now March 30th, 2012 and has remained that date ever since.  I am now 8 years sober from alcohol.

#morewillberevealed

My Reprimands – Part 4

I wrote some amends letters after my reprimands of SD2 and the last one was to myself (second person to first person,) and I ended it with this:

“Is that all? You done now?  Because I can think of some messed up stuff you did to other guys too, or have you forgotten?  I hope you plan on taking responsibility for how YOU treated some of the dudes that you spent your time with over the years because you were no saint.”

Yes, yes I do.


Yep, I wasn’t very nice.  In fact, at one point in my 20’s, I proudly claimed Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater” and “Promiscuous” as my anthems – which, not gonna lie, I still get a sick high every time I hear both of those songs and I recognize I should feel bad about that now but I don’t…not yet anyway.

Seriously though, I do feel bad for some stuff – how I handled some break ups, caused drama and led guys on.  Let’s face it, I was self-seeking and loved the attention of the opposite sex. I have yet to get to the bottom as to why but a thorough 4th step will uncover a lot when I get to it. For now, here is a short list of the kind of damage I did and would make amends for if it WERE appropriate because today, it is NOT:

  1. I broke up with my very first “boyfriend” on his doorstep, dropping him off after the “sadie hawkins” Valentines dance. 2 years later, the same was done to me after the Homecoming dance. Of course it did. I totally deserved it.
  2. Barely paid attention to my date at the Homecoming dance the year prior to the one mentioned above. Why? Because I was no longer interested in him and wanted to be there with someone else.  He went on to be a total jerk to me until Sr. year and as fate would have it, I married him 12 years later. Man, I am one lucky gal.
  3. I willingly fueled situations that led to physical encounters between guys I was dating and ones who had hurt me in some way.  That’s just weird to me.
  4. I befriended guys who wanted to be more than friends – when I was single AND in a relationship. It is clear to me now that I simply loved the attention, bearing no concern for their feelings. Careless and mean.
  5. Fell in love with “the one that got away” and broke up with D1 in hopes to be with him. But the love was not returned, so I went BACK to D1, only to cheat on him a few months later with H – and then lied about it so he wouldn’t break up with me.  Then I really broke up with him and called him pathetic when he wouldn’t stop crying. At that point, I really was a heartless drunk.
  6. “Dated” guys while I waited for H to move home from out of state. I DID however, tell them not to get attached because someone else had my heart and they were just “fillers” but still…selfish and not cool.
  7. I’m not going to say how but I hurt H at the beginning of our relationship. Pretty bad. I will be making a living amends to him for the remainder of our days on this earth.

Yes, I am sorry for all the above and that’s all I want or even need to say. When it comes to my days “playing the field,” it’s time to let go of all the shame, remorse, guilt and any other negative feelings that no longer serve me.

#morewillberevealed

The Reprimand Series

img_0299All of that drunk driving I did eventually caught up to me…twice…and I’m lucky it wasn’t more. I’m even luckier that I never seriously harmed or killed anybody or myself.  I swallowed the bitter pills of humiliation and shame as I went about righting my wrongs. I paid my debts to society by spending a couple weekends in community service AND jail with a bunch of lost and abandoned souls serving out their short to long term sentences or awaiting trial.  The next few posts will feature highlights from my days in the orange vest, my time “on the inside” and the guys that were, what one might consider, “fixtures” in my life during those times.

That being said, I do need to say something:  I already told you, this series is MOSTLY for me. I know I previously mentioned that I wasn’t going to be very nice in my “reprimands” to my DUDS but let’s be honest, I’m also really good at blowing hot air.  It’s likely they’ll never read this anyway, but my conscience simply won’t allow me to unload it all. Truth be told, I no longer care what they think about me but I DO care about the impact my words MIGHT have on them or others they care about. Anonymous or not, it’s not right for me to go there.

Don’t be mistaken though. I’m still going to go there. Just not THERE there.

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.10 – My Recovery Revealed

Revealed: It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. (BB, pg. 85)

I remember the first time I learned that smoking pot was a no no in the rooms of AA. I was sitting in a meeting watching a woman take a 1 year token after “smoking a little weed” when she had 11 years of sobriety. I distinctly remember a part of her share when she received the coin and it went SOMETHING like this:

“I really don’t want to be taking this token but my sponsor is making me.”

I thought it was ridiculous that a woman with long term sobriety would be “told” she had to start over.  I still do and that’s why I kept my “marijuana maintenance” a secret for so long.

Revealing my chosen recovery path here isn’t the first time I have “outed myself.”  I came clean to 3 friends a few years ago and their response was this:

“So? The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.”

I couldn’t believe my ears and was really happy they were so accepting.  It was a game changer for me and I started going back to meetings. But not regularly. Even though no one else in the program knew, I still felt like an outcast and “not worthy” to be an active member of AA. Down deep, I really did want to be “a part of” but I was convinced I wouldn’t be accepted if I fully “got honest.” I felt like a fraud and it was killing me inside. I could NOT let go of the idea that I didn’t belong because I WAS doing it “my way” and if they knew, they’d shun me. Why?

MY ego.

MY pride.

MY will.

I was IN self and entering the danger zone, distancing myself further and further from the program.

I’ve heard countless times that people who smoke weed in recovery end up leaving AA altogether and eventually turn to the drink when life gets really hard. And guess what…

…it did. I left AA and then shit got real. And guess what…

…the thought to drink DID occur to me a handful of times. But did I?

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.6 – My Recovery Reflection

Reflection (past) – Hindsight is 20/20…sometimes.

Sooooooo, we decided it was a good idea to go to Las Vegas for Easter weekend 2018.

Easter weekend in Sin City? Really? Yes!

With the kids? You know it! 

We needed to get out of dodge. H suggested it and I said “hey, why not?” The plan was to leave early on Saturday morning so we had 2 full days. But something unexpected happened two  days before that threw me into panic mode: We had a lice infestation!!!

I will spare you the series of events that occurred but let’s just say, once again, I made things harder for myself than they needed to be. It was a cluster of a situation that had me crying and cursing myself left and right.  We were close to canceling the trip all together but I gave in and spent every pretty penny’s worth on having it professionally removed.

The whole debacle was such an ordeal, I knew there was no way we were going to get on the road as early as we had planned. And we didn’t. We lost the entire day and arrived to our hotel at 5pm.  Not the end of the world, at least we made it and enjoyed the time we did get to spend there. However, I’ve reflected a bunch since we’ve been back and have caught myself doing a little bit of self-loathing with the “coulda, woulda, shouda” statements (CWSs):

I could have saved a lot of time, stress and tears if I would have just slowed down instead of rushing to fix the problem without informing myself better. I should have done more research.

If only I could have seen them sooner; then I would have taken care of it before it got so bad. I should have been paying closer attention. 

I might as well be incarcerated for the mental beat downs I give myself, I mean damn.  When this pattern of “stinking thinking” takes over, I cannot be in the present or of any use to others. So, figuratively speaking, I am a prisoner…..in my own mind.

This “stinking thinking” has carried over into my recovery life as well. I remember somewhere in year #3, S2 said “I wish you would put as much time into your spiritual fitness as you do your physical fitness.” Looking back, I totally get what she was saying.

As I reflect on the first 4 years of my recovery, the CSWs held me back from taking it really seriously.  Plus, I still hadn’t accepted my alcoholism and was l”ugging around my baggage,” so I always had one foot in and one foot out when it came to AA.  I thought it was all about drinking and as long as I wasn’t drinking, I was good.

Other than that, as I talked about in Part 1, my recovery from March 2012 – December 2016, was half-assed, at best. I did the bare minimum of what was required of me and flew below the radar. I did not “get in the middle” and fall in love with the program or the fellowship. Sure, I was cordial and even made friends but I was basically faking the whole recovery part. Yep, I celebrated each year abstinent from alcohol, took dirty tokens, and celebrated others do the same. I was genuine when it came to my interactions, most of my shares, the relationships I formed and what I brought to the table in terms of friendship. However, everything pertaining to recovery was pretty much an act but I wasn’t just fooling others, I was fooling myself as well.

In hindsight, if I HAD taken suggestions and done everything that I coulda, woulda shoulda done in early recovery, I probably would have “gotten it” sooner and not wasted the first 4 years at war with myself, delaying my growth as a spiritual woman in recovery.

But see, I thought that if I revealed my BBS to others, they would think less of me, internalizing this negative belief that I am automatically less deserving of all the gifts that recovery and working with others had to offer.

After 2 more years of meetings (still on again, off again,) a lot of prayer, self reflection, and candid discussions with people in and outside the rooms of AA, I now have a different perspective so here’s what I think of that:

FTS!

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.4 – My Recovery Responsibility

Responsibility (past & present): “Every time you point a finger at someone, there are 3 pointing back at you.” – Unknown

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My favorite game to play in life has been the “blame game.”  Call me out and my go to reaction is more often than not, defensive. I will go to great lengths to justify my mistakes by giving you all the details that led up to them, paying particular attention to who and/or what I could blame so that I am pardoned. Not only that, if push comes to shove, I’ll even unfold my laundry list of transgressions made against me to deflect from the issue at hand.

Before taking my recovery and spirituality seriously, my former ROD had pointed this out to me in the past and I would deny it tooth and nail. I didn’t even understand this concept and had never heard of the “blame game” until S2 related to me when discussing marital quarrels. She stated that she too could be a “blamer” and that it’s important to be mindful of our roles in difficult circumstances and to not shift blame where it doesn’t belong.

When it came to my drinking, everyone, everything and what happened around me was to blame and I carried that mindset with me into recovery.  If I couldn’t make a meeting, complete some step work or get together with my sponsor or friends in the program, you best believe I had an excuse as to why and it was almost always not my fault. Unless backed into a corner, I straight up could never take responsibility for ANYTHING.

If I didn’t know better today, I’d likely still be twisting, manipulating and lying my way out of everything so long as it didn’t hurt anyone and I felt assured that I remained in your good graces. Old habits die hard and I have to really check myself at times.

Truth be told, my recovery suffered because of all the lies I was telling myself: I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not like everyone else, they need help more than me, everyone else made do (or not do) it, I will drink again someday, blah blah freakin’ blah.

There’s only one person to blame for my slow progress and spiritual growth in recovery. All I had to do was take a look in the mirror to see the real person at fault:

Me, myself and I.

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.2 – My Recovery Review

**Disclaimer: As mentioned in my About page, this blog has morphed into way more than I thought it would and with that has come various changes over the past 3 years.  I’ve updated the Home Page again to reflect those changes so check it out if the mood strikes you. Wanna know what else I did? Obviously that’s a rhetorical question because of course I’m going to tell you whether you want me to or not. I decided that I need to stop insisting new readers start reading from the very beginning; especially since this is Part 2. If I need to reference something from Part 1, then I’ll just link to the referenced post; just like I did in this paragraph…twice…and in the first sentence under this disclaimer. Simple as that.**


Review: KISS – “Keep it simple, stupid.” 

In June (2018), it will be 20 years since I graduated high school. As you already know (and if you are a new reader, then you don’t; so if you are curious, click the link above) I became ASB President by default, not by choice. This meant I gave the graduation speech and (basically) was committed to planning our future reunion(s).

Since I planned the 10 year* I knew that everyone would automatically assume I would do the 20 year and I was procrastinating. Honestly? I really didn’t want the responsibility. I was kiiiiinda hoping it would just pass by and no one would say anything. But I know myself. I would then feel bad and start wondering if I let people down, sending me into this little rabbit hole of “what ifs” and “what do they think of me? do they hate me now?” etc.**

But someone did say something and the more I mulled it over I was like “fine! I’ll do it. But not by myself,” and an event page was formed.

Here’s the thing though: I’m a perfectionist.  I obsess over finite details and complicate things for myself. Like, all the time.  So now my brain is getting a smidge overwhelmed by all the ideas popping into my head – the whos/whats/whens/wheres of the whole thing. The more I think about it, the more daunting the task feels….ugh…but then I remember, ‘oh yeah, I’m not doing it alone this time. Phewf!’

The same can be said about my recovery. I have made it waayyyyyyy harder for myself than it needs to be because I have allowed myself to believe that I need to do it perfectly. I have listened to countless shares in the rooms of AA and compared my recovery to everyone else’s. Simply put: my alcoholic, codependent, perfectionist thinking told me that my recovery had to look a certain way in order to be considered (and remain) sober.

Before I dive in to WTF happened that finally forced me into a new life without alcohol, let’s review what my recovery has looked like, as laid out in Part 1; in chronological order, of course :

  • I’ve been lying and carrying around a BBS and I’m sick of it.
  • I was a dry drunk feeling bad for not working a program the AA way and have spent a lot of time reconsidering my AA membership.
  • Aside from a few relapses in early recovery, I have reverted to thinking and behaving alcoholically and I blame this on not having put more effort into my program up until this past year. So essentially, I’m still a “newcomer” and learning.
  • I’ve had 2 sponsors in recovery and have been without one for almost 3 years. I’m not 100% clear on if I will ever have one again. I also have never sponsored anyone and I’m not 100% clear on whether I ever will either. (THAT has changed. You should follow me so you can keep reading!)
  • At (almost) 9 years in recovery and being in and out of the rooms of AA the entire time, I have discovered two things:
  1. I AM an alcoholic and should stay sober from alcohol for the rest of my life and
  2. While I no longer have a drinking problem, I still have a thinking problem that I need to work on with the help of outside support.

Just like becoming ASB president wasn’t my choice, neither was recovery.  I started my journey with support, but wanted to be left alone.

Just like not wanting any part of planning the reunion, I wanted no part of recovery. I started my journey alone but didn’t want to be IN it alone.

And just like accepting my role as reunion planner took me a few, so did accepting my alcoholism. I started my journey a hard core dry drunk and the road to getting where I am today has felt somewhat lonely.

By choice.

That is, until God intervened.

#morewillberevealed