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Monday, October 15, 2012

Lessons of a Hostile Takeover

I am petrified and thrilled all at once.  What's this all about??  It's about learning to really really really trust the One who made me.  We have been through the financial wringer these past couple of years.  It started when the business partners literally did a 'hostile takeover.'  I know.  That's what I was thinking!  That's all I will say on THAT topic, but, you can imagine what happened going from a nice juicy, regular, steady income to zero income and NO HEALTH INSURANCE!!  

Let's just say, we've had better years.  The result of zero income has been both terrible and wonderful.  Terrible....because we haven't been able to pay our debts, when we were accustomed to paying everyone on time each month.  Also, we've learned the banks THRIVE on overdraft charges!!  We owe everyone.  Trust me.  It can be kind of hard to sleep at night when all of this is hanging over our heads.  Plus, all the unknowns that come with not paying your mortgage...for a long long period of time.  Unknowns like WHERE ARE WE GOING TO LIVE??!!  Where are we going to move where my 89 year old mother in law can also live and get around without worrying about stairs.  She is on a fixed income.  VERY fixed.  Like not enough to actually live on. get the picture.  It all seems very daunting.  Trust me.  I know.

Now to the part about it also being WONDERFUL...The 'wonderful' part of terrible and wonderful, has everything to do with being forced to surrender all of it to God.  My maker.  The author and perfector of my FAITH.  The grace He has given us each day is just that...enough for each day.  One day at a time and no more.  I am learning to trust God in all circumstances.  I'm learning that He can make a way when there is literally NO way.  I'm learning to be okay with where I am this very moment.  That no matter what this world throws at me...I will be okay.  God has a plan for us.  I don't have to know all the details of every minute of our future.  I wouldn't have chosen to learn these lessons in this manner.  I hope to goodness we don't have to sit in the middle of it for too much longer.  But I KNOW that I can trust God to take us where HE wants us to be...without ANY input from me.  

Final thoughts...Im learning the importance of practicing gratitude every day.  I'm learning to let go of my plans and dreams because God's plans and dreams for me are probably so  much cooler, and they can't be taken away.  I'm learning I am much stronger that I realized and, today, I will be okay.  We will be okay. Knowing who I really am...when all the fluffy stuff is stripped away... That is truly wonderful!!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Sober Journal...Looking Back

Here is another tidbit from my journal.  This was written June 2nd, 2009, at around 2.5 months of sobriety.  
6:30am on the dock...  

photo by Jill Tennison
The tide is rushing out and the sun is making it's way out of hiding.  Complete calm.  This is a perfect moment.  God, help me to live in this exact moment in time--to be aware of the amazing miracles all around me---right here---right now.  

Help me to always see people, see your creation, with a heart of gratitude.  Life is fresh and new each day I am sober.    

This is Your gift to me---wrapped in the mist of the morning---tied with a big bow that is the sunrise!  
Oh, how You love me!  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

finding my way back to me

Most people would say I am usually bubbling over with things to say and share.  However, keeping up with this blogging thing is harder than I thought. My hat is off to those amazing women in the blogosphere that post almost every day.   I started with my first post LAST November and here it is, JULY!!  It seems like when a bright idea pops in my head, by the time I log on and start typing, I can no longer put it into words.  Bloggers block??  Is there such a thing?  

So, with that said, finally, here is another (long awaited??) post.  I have been looking back over some of the journal entries I made in the first year or two of my sobriety.  

When I got sober, in March of 2009, it had been awhile since I had been fully present and aware in my own skin and in my own surroundings.  We are blessed to live on a tidal creek along a river in South Carolina, so I started going out on our dock with my coffee and my journal every morning and watching the sun come up.  It was life-changing for me, as I truly began to LOOK and SEE the beauty and inspiration right out my back door.  Mostly, it was about learning to live fully and completely in the moment instead of harping on the wreckage of my past or worrying about tomorrow.  

So I've decided to share some of the journal entries written in the first months of my sobriety.  
      11-28-2008 (about 14 months before I actually quit drinking)

"I have made a decision to finally deal with my addiction.  I finally              came to the realization that if I don't do something, it will destroy me, my marriage and my kids.

Alcohol has slowly changed me from a fully committed wife, mother,    and friend, into a person I dont even know....and I definitely don't like.

The decision came with a desperate plea from my husband, my love and best friend, along with my own desperate cry to God for help.

This is the second day I have not had anything to drink in the last several years.  I can't even tell you how hard it is to admit that.  I am a person who doesn't like to admit my faults.  Like I'm sure everyone will think I am SO TOGETHER!  So what--I'm not.  

The only one I'm fooling is myself, by numbing my reality.  It's so much easier to drone through the mundane tasks each day only to look forward to my 'reward' of several glasses of wine before bed-sometimes before 12pm.  

Instead of allowing myself to be sifted and shaped by the hands of God, I am being smashed through the blur of my addiction--influencing all I do and all I think about.  THAT's NOT ME!  Not anymore! " 

When I wrote this, I hadn't even been 2 days without a drink.  All of the reasons I said I wanted to quit, needed to quit, were great reasons.  I think at this point I knew I was an alcoholic.  But I didn't realize the power it had over me until later that afternoon.   When I opened a bottle of wine and poured another drink-- the insanity continued.  It would continue for another 14 months...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who am I and why am I writing this blog??

   This is what I am trying to discover, or rather, uncover.  Who is Jill?  Where is my authentic self?  How can I be "me" without fillers, preservatives or pretense?  It's about time I start the search, now that I am most likely at my life's halfway point. It's not that I've been living a lie, but I think we all do to a degree.  We all wear a mask or two at some period in our lives.  Not that it's a bad thing.  It is part of the process of finding ourselves and how we fit in the grand scheme.  It's only bad if we remain stuck under a big pile of our own debris.  I have been in the process of digging out of my debris.  Actually, more like giving my debris pile to God to use for his eternal building project.  He is reclaiming me.  Building something beautiful out of my junk.  I am finally willing to go where I've never gone before: fearlessly sorting thru my pile.  I'm jumping in with a big shovel and great determination.  Are you ready?  Let's get going.

     I am a small town girl, but I love the city too. I love wearing my boots and jeans.  I also love dressing up in heels and a sparkly dress! My name is Jill. I am definitely a creative spirit.  I love to paint, draw, sing, play music, collage, journal, write poetry, knit and watch Dr. Phil.   I am Mom to 2 beautiful daughters and I've been married to a wonderful man for 21 plus years. I truly have everything I wished for when I was a young girl.  The husband who is loyal and adores me for my beauty, charm and ability to multitask, 2 lovely and healthy daughters who are smart and focused and love God, and their parents, with all their hearts, a nice home, (should have wished harder for a live in maid!), a car, friends, a picket fence.  You get the picture.   Not to say we haven't had our share of struggles, most of which happened in the last few years and due, in large part, to my great love affair with alcohol.  Wine to be exact.  Only taken on occasion at first.  Slowly it crept into my daily activities.  He is a very cunning, charming dude, alcohol, especially dressed up in a beautiful wine bottle.  Facing this reality is where my search begins.

I never thought I could become a slave to something  I have never been one to admit I had a problem with anything.  Love to help you with yours.  But ask for help myself??  Not so much.  Anyone feelin me??  So it finally got to the point where the addiction to alcohol overshadowed everything in my life.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I made insane choices and "insane" is the keyword here.  It started every evening sharing a glass, or 4, of wine watching the sunset with my hubs.  So romantic.  Just like the movies.  He would stop at 2 and I would keep pouring when he wasn't looking.  One bottle was just depressing.  I knew it would not be enough.  Eventually, I was drinking, alone, all day every day.  When I was sick with a stomach bug, I drank.  On meds that say "DO NOT DRINK WHEN TAKING THIS" I drank.  Driving someone??  I am ashamed to say there are times I drove drunk.  All the while criticizing those people who are stupid enough to drive drunk and get a DUI.  Since I never got a DUI I guess I'm not one of those people??  Once it got going it was off to the races for me.  And I didn't drink at bars or go out and party with my friends.  I drank at home while doing laundry, making dinner, making breakfast??  I said and did things I didn't remember saying or doing. Eventually my love affair progressed to drinking a couple bottles of wine and feeling totally sober to suddenly waking up the next day and not remembering what I said or did for 5 hours the day before.  VERY scary.

Truth is a bitter pill to swallow.  I was now living 2 lives.  One a respectable, educated, stay at home mom, the other a complete MESS.  I was two different people.  My good Christian southern educated successful, goal oriented and unselfish self.  This girl was the expert at masking her struggles.  She "appeared" to have it all together.  She was a friend to all, life of the party, helpful servant who prayed for friends and family, believed in God, Jesus, the Bible as truth, active in her church, grew her kids "Gods Way", threw baby showers for her girlfriends, led bible study groups, sang in the choir  and worked in women's ministry at my church.

The other me??  well, it's hard to tell you about her.  She would over indulge in alcohol on a nightly basis, eventually a daily basis. She/um... I would (attempt to)read DR SUESS to the kids when my talking was so slurred they probably didn't think I was reading in English!!  The list of my stupid drunkalogue goes on and on.  Lets just say, I KNEW I had a problem.  I wrote in my journal TWO years before I actually got sober that I definitely KNEW I must be an alcoholic.  I just wasn't ready to share it with the world....or end my affair with chardonnay.

The thought of never drinking again totally freaked me out.  People who drink normally don't think about things like that. They don't plan their drinking.  They don't plan a drinking schedule to ensure they are not alcoholics(only on weekends, only 2 glasses, never alone).  They don't HAVE to drink even when they want to stop or when bad things happened.   I was slipping FAST and it really made me realize I was helpless to stop on my own.  I don't like being helpless, powerless, out of control.  In this case, I could no longer disguise the problem.  I HATED this person I'd become.  THIS was NOT who God created me to be.  Every morning I would swear "never again" and by noon I was popping a cork or opening the black box.  Of course I hid my bottles under the other trash so my hubby wouldn't know how much I had.

The begining of the end for me was when I went to bed (passed out) in my gardening clothes, broken glass all over the foyer, someone threw up in the bathroom (Me????) I had answered the phone when he called from the ER where he was with my daughter because she had hurt her hand.  He had forgotten his debit card and called so I could find it for him and call right back with the number.  I had absolutely NO memory of any of it.  I talked to him and told him I would call him back??  really??  Oh, how did the glass get all over the foyer??  not sure.  Why did I sleep in my dirty gardening clothes??  doesn't everyone??  This was the begining of the bottom for me. My "moment of clarity."  My hubs insisted that I get help.  I would call a rehab center or HE would by the end of the day.  To say I was terrified is an understatement. I was scared to death and relieved that it was finally out on the table.   But I didn't want to lose my family, and I could tell hubs was DONE with this circus of a life I was inflicting upon one and all .

I called a detox center in my town and made an appt. to go for an interview...I guess to see if I "qualified" for the inpatient program.  Uhhhhh, yeah, no problem.  I was checkin in!! what!!  I had to go to a hair appointment first and get my roots retouched before I go to REHAB. It was VERY hard to get in with my hairdresser and I wasn't about to miss my appointment.   It was a very important step for me...the rehab, not the retouch!!  haha.  I will share about my time in the mental health spa in another post.  Lets just say it saved my life.  I learned that I had a progressive disease called alcoholism.  It is surely fatal if left untreated.  I didn't want to lose everything and eventually lose my life.  I'm so glad I took that step, as scarey as it was.  My husband, kids, best friends supported me and prayed for me.  Getting sober was a miraculous experience. STAYING sober is also quite amazing. That was 3-18-09 and it gets better every day.  By God's grace alone have I been restored to sanity.  I have hope about my future, as long as I stay sober one day at a time.

This was definitely one of those FORKs IN THE ROAD. I could no longer live without alcohol.  I could no longer live WITH alcohol.   By God's grace I finally got help.

So began my journey to find "the real Jill".  I found such a source of creative energy and internal peace when I let God run my life again.  I pray each day that He will keep me sober and use me to help others who might be struggling.  He was there all along waiting for me to ask for help.  It is amazing to see the difference in my life today.  I am still ADHD, scattered, unfocused and irritable at times.  I'm learning it's okay to feel that way.  It's okay to live in the moment you are in, right now.  It's okay to NOT be perfect.  It's okay to try and fail, face my fears, share my struggles. It's okay to own my defects and ask God to remove them.  Like a Father, he loves teaching me new things and giving me little gifts in the form of poetry or a piece of art that is divinely inspired.

WHAT I AM LEARNING:  I am very conscious of what I produce, what flows out of me, when I am doing it to please "them", others, the critics, my family, friends, colleagues, etc.   This kind of creativity is stifled and trivial.  It's contrived and probably not "the real Jill".  BUT...when I create something that is DIVINELY INSPIRED, bursting from overwhelming gratitude, springing out of a full heart, just because, I can see a BIG difference in the outcome.  It just comes, an amazing high, only from my heart that is once again filled with God. I'm different from the inside out.  Such a great lesson.  I can only open my heart more as I share honestly with all of you.  I am tired of hiding.  I am tired of trying to please others and gain acceptance from people who don't really care if I succeed or fail.  No matter what, if I am creating something from a place of honesty and truth, to please God and God alone, I cannot FAIL.

Lets talk again soon...goodnight.

Click on my POETRY page if you would like to get poettted.  Partake in Poetation.  Read a couple of my poems.  Eventually I will figure out how to post a link so you can just go straight to it.  I'm new at this blogging thing.