Friday, August 28, 2015

Empowerment from within...


This entry is dedicated to my sweet, loving and wonderful mama, Betty Tisdale.  Mama passed away, peacefully, last Wednesday on August 19th, 2015 surrounded by 6 of her 10 children and 2 of her 13 grandchildren.

My mama spoke from her heart in all of her speeches she gave around the world which she instilled in me through this blog.  She never had a script or notes to read when she gave her speeches. So, here I am on her PC doing just that - not giving a speech but sharing...from my heart.

I am writing about how she touched me not just through her work but how she shared feelings and thoughts that were outside of her HALO - Helping and Loving Orphans non-profit organization.  And I really want to share how she helped me along with all my friends and family to continue to stay sober...and even tonight as I write this.  

The photo of my mama above has been one of my favorites because this was the one that always greeted me when I came down here to her office to do the entry work for all the donation checks that came in the mail for HALO.  Even when she went out for her twice weekly breakfast outings or other appointments and she wasn't here, I would go ahead and do the HALO work that was waiting for me to do.  The sparkle in my mama's eyes and that gorgeous smile always made me smile whether I was in a bad mood or added to my smile even more when I arrived each time here in her downstairs office.  Does her photo find you smiling, too?  I thought SO!  :)


Since my mama's stroke on April 15th, 2013, I vowed to help care for her more than ever.  I am the first to own up that I was overbearing and at times stubborn on how I wanted to care for her.  In the last 6 months, I had to accept that she did not want me to treat her like she was an invalid and to let her keep her independence as best she could physically and mentally.  I stressed to her that I was only being this way because I wanted to make up for loss time that I was so into my alcohol addiction and had chosen to stay away often.

She hated each time I showed up at her front door after I had had a previous full day and evening of drinking in my early addiction days.  Then as time passed, I began to drink in the mornings - not your typical of 'hair of the dog'...it was more that I HAD to have it or I would have the shakes big time.  And I wreaked of wine every time I saw her.

Little by little, I began to come over less and less because I did NOT want to hear her nagging and telling me about her huge disappointment in me.  I, then, dreaded having to talk with her on the phone on any given day because I desperately kept trying to hide the fact that I was drinking in the morning or whenever she called even though I knew she knew.  All she had to say was "You've been drinking.  I will talk to you when you're sober...IF."

Those days will be with me for the rest of my life and a reminder how bad off I was.  And this is WHY I wanted to always be there for her over the last two years...nothing more, nothing less.

Over time, Mama began to realize that she was not able to do the things she once could before the stroke.  One of them was driving.  Slowly, she allowed me to drive her to the bank, the grocery store and etc.  Once she let me do that, our relationship became stronger because she trusted me and found me to be accountable.  When I was drinking THAT would never have happened.  It felt good to be there for her...for a change.

We started to confide in one another more and more each time we were together. Many heart to heart talks were becoming daily.  Oh how I will always cherish them.  We were both honest and speaking from our hearts to one another.  This is what made our relationship even stronger and special.  My favorite times were before and after her favorite (now mine...dang it, Mama!) soap opera 'Days of Our Lives'.  We would either be upstairs talking in the kitchen at her butcher block table or in her comfortable den where we watched the soap opera.  Last year, I confided her about a toxic and unhealthy relationship that I was in and was surprised to find that I was not going to get a lecture rather I got a hug and some comforting words of empathy as she helped me work through it.

It was the first time in my adult life that I was not being judged by my mother.  And from there on, we bonded more and more.  She shared things that I never thought she would ever share.  It comforts me now that whenever I think of my mama, she really was my best friend and always will be in my heart.  I talk to her as if she is still here with me...especially, when I sit down and watch 'Days of Our Lives' in her den.  Everyday since her passing when I watch the soap here, I still have a good chuckle because she started to lose interest each time we watched together .  She, constantly, said that there were "too many story lines" and would want to talk.   We just simply enjoyed each other's company...one on one.  That is another comforting thing we had with each other...just being in the same room, quietly and not feel like we had to talk all the time.

I found myself, surprisingly, not angry that my mama has left.  Rather, my heart is happy that she is in a better place.  And towards the end, she confided in me (and others in my family) that she was ready to go.  She said over and over to me that she was at peace with being ready to go and knows that she had a very fulfilled life and wanted to leave with dignity.

It was unfortunate that we had a falling out 5 days before she had this stroke.  It was a serious one that I did not want to have anything to do with her...ever and vice versa.  In the past, we always made up whenever we had an argument.  Not this time.  I was being very stubborn and so angry at her as was she.  But as I look back on it...I didn't take into account in my decision to cut off all ties with her that she was getting worse in her aging.  It hurt then and still does because I wasted such negative energy being angry that I lost those 5 days with her.  However, we made up when I came to her house to pick her up with my daughter, Amanda.  It was Amanda's 22nd birthday.  This will be ONE day I will never forget, either.  The genuine apologies and forgiveness were in abundance.  And...oh the hug from her was so wonderful and so heartfelt.  Mama gave great hugs.

Two weeks ago, I found myself in a situation at the hospital where my mama was where I was really angry about something that was petty (it wasn't then) and I REALLY REALLY wanted to drink.  I removed myself from the waiting room and took a walk.  I walked past several bars by the hospital.  Oh how I longed for that first drink.  But, I kept walking...and walking (my bad foot was not happy about that) until I took a long and deep breath.  I realized that I had better get myself to an AA meeting.  I went back to the hospital and retrieved my belongings.  I then drove myself to one of my favorite AA meetings that I used to attend.  As I was sitting in the meeting, I was still fuming but slowly started to listen....really listen.

I heard what I truly needed to hear in that meeting.  I realized that I was allowing my anger and resentment towards the situation I was in earlier to get to me.  My addiction was rearing its ugly head again trying to get me to find a reason to justify having that first drink.  That was my AHA moment.

What a relief to know that I could have control over my addiction...once again.  I wrote a letter to the person I was angry and resentful towards and owning up to my behavior.  I apologized, profusely, for lashing out at that person.  I stated that I knew that my addiction was trying to get me to take that first drink by allowing my anger and resentment to be the reason to want to act on my desire to drink again.  How empowered I felt that I did not give in to the desire to pick up that drink and to apologize to the recipient of my anger and resentment.

Letting go of anger and resentment allows for a more loving and peaceful life.  Taking that first drink is not the answer.  Take stock of the good in your life and that will truly outweigh the ruination and  havoc that drinking will have in your life should you choose to go back to that horrible state where you once were.

What I take from my relationship with my mama is that she showed me how to be strong no matter how hard life can get.  I had not seen myself as being strong.  However, when she told me how proud she was of me on how I have been able to get sober and stay sober, I finally took that to heart and decided to write about it here.

I thank my mama for showing me the way of staying strong and to be true to myself.  And I thank all my friends and family who continue to support me in my sobriety...from the bottom of my heart.-

Thank you for being my best friend, Mama...through and through.  And thank you for believing in me.

May you continue to rest in peace, Mama.  See you on the other side when the time comes for me to join you.  I miss you but know that you are here with me in spirit and in my heart always.

I love you,  Mama!  xoxo











Saturday, April 11, 2015

Embracing positive changes as I continue my journey in sobriety...



(Photo: LTT - taken at Greenlake in Seattle, Washington)

"We never
know how much time we have on earth here, therefore, we mustn't  take life for granted."

I, often, hear this and am often reminded that life is indeed too short which is why I need to embrace the changes in my life in a positive manner.  It is not easy at times but I know that when I am in a negative place in my thoughts and feelings, it leads to unhealthy attitude and reaction which causes emotional distress, mostly on my part.

The changes I am sharing here are big steps that I didn't think would happen but knew in time, they would.  Timing has definitely been the key as it has given me this opportunity to continue to build a stronger faith and courage in myself.

The first change to share is that I am making strides to return to the work force at my own pace, in a realistic way.  Today, I started a part-time temporary position at a local Shoreline temp agency assisting the office manager while the owners of the business are on vacation for 10 days.  It was  exhilarating yet nerve racking and very rewarding at the same time.  Having a small break from caring for my 92 year old mother and knowing that I am able to help contribute, financially...albeit a minor amount... is so rewarding!  While I was at work, I was feeling really good about myself which had me smile a lot today.

Another one of the wonderful changes is my deferred DUI prosecution which has been, recently, dismissed after 5 years of being on active and inactive probation.  This was a HUGE weight lifted.  I have NO idea how I got through the first 2 years when I had to actively go and see my probation officer on a monthly basis to 'check in' with her and in addition, attend outpatient therapy at a local treatment center here in Shoreline.  Basically, with the active probation, it was to show in good faith that I was a good girl and keeping my nose clean.  And then the last 3 years, it was up to me to not get into any legal wrongdoing...no speeding ticket, no moving driving violation, no drug related trouble anything that would lead to my arrest or having to appear back in court.

So, when I received from my probation officer the following e-mail, my heart was so happy and relieved that I can now, officially, begin the next phase in my life.  A new chapter is beginning.  How wonderful is that?! 

Hi Lien, I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you.  I have been crazy busy at work.  First off, I am so incredibly proud of you! You have been such a great example of a woman in recovery with your blog and giving back and helping others. I have so much respect and admiration for you.

As for your deferred prosecution getting dismissed you do not need to anything. The dismissal will be done administratively and should be done on the 8th or shortly after. They are pretty on top of getting those done on a timely manner. I can check on it and let you know.

You take care and I will let you know when it is completed.  Have fun on your temp job!

It must be my Catholic upbringing of the famous 'guilt trip' that made me feel self conscious about how I conducted my life, accordingly...throughout my probation period.  I did everything by the book when it came to my deferred DUI prosecution probation...and always made sure I did everything right.  AND I am soooo glad and proud that I did so.  Because it paid off to be a GOOD girl and do what I was told throughout the 5 year probation period. 

I. am. Finished.  Humbled.  And. have. Succeeded.

With these two changes, they have truly impacted me in a positive way.  The reality of being sober 5 plus years and accepting that I do and always will have a problem with alcohol has given me peace to learn to live with this permanent life change, positively.  It has been deep rooted in me since the days of attending outpatient therapy to find some way to help others in the same predicament where I was once a newbie in getting sober in my earlier days as well.  I had the opportunity not long ago to speak to at the treatment center during a class there.  Not sure if I came across a little too harsh in sharing my story of  what alcoholism did to not only my family but to myself - physically, emotionally and realistically.  I, also, shared how to deal with not entertaining the idea of that 'first drink.  That is the hardest part of early sobriety.  No way around it.

It is imperative to accept that everyone has their own beliefs, knowledge of themselves and it is up to them to find their own support group to get them through the tough times of early sobriety and throughout the entire journey of staying sober.  And I applaud each and every recovering alcoholic who is able to finally come to grips with the reality that drinking is no longer a part of their life nor can it ever.

The DUI that I was pulled over for back in 2009, gave me the chance to realistically reassess my life choices.  Knowing that driving under the influence was NOT a good choice, I do feel that it was a silver lining for me to change my life...once and for all when it came to my drinking.  IT was a hard lesson to learn but one that helped me to grow; embrace a healthier life and to be more at peace with myself.

As we grow from our lessons, we must, also, accept that everyone has a story and we must never judge another person's journey.  It is not our place to do so.  In early recovery, addicts have a strong tendency to blame themselves and beat themselves over it.  So, no one needs to make someone new in recovery or someone who may have fallen off the wagon to make them feel worse than they already do.  It's not conducive...not at all.

This is where I go back to saying that we really don't know how much time we have here on this earth.  SO, please do this for yourself.  Make healthier and safer choices.  Don't judge.  Accept each other in a positive and loving way, unconditionally. 

I cannot share enough on how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful and loving support group which makes a HUGE difference in my successful sobriety.  Please remember to live life...one day at a time and live it to the fullest.  I wish those who are new to the recovery path and for those who have fallen off the sobriety path...all the best from the bottom of my heart.

I share with you a beautiful poem of what matters!


(Photo:  LTT)

What Will Matter

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

- Michael Josephson


If you are wanting to share in a chat or e-mail me about your battle with alcoholism or how it is affecting those around you, please feel free to share here in a comment on how I can contact you.

I want to see you succeed.  It's a beautiful feeling.

With lots of love, hugs and gratitude!

Lien





Friday, November 28, 2014

The holidays are now upon us...

(Photo: LTT - Queen Anne Hill...Seattle, Washington)
This is one of my favorite photos I took recently that fills my heart of memories of my mother and my daughter when they used to take walks together hand in hand when Amanda (now 21 years old) was a toddler.



“When was the last time you woke up and wished you'd had just one more drink the night before?

I have never regretted not drinking. Say this to yourself, and you'll get through anything.”


- Meredith Bell, Seven Days Sober: A Guide to Discovering What You Really Think About Your Drinking

__________________________________________


All I can clearly remember of my first holiday season of getting sober...it was VERY HARD.

Every year, my husband and I always looked forward to Thanksgiving.  We loved getting the annual Beaujolais Nouveau (http://www.beaujolaisnouveauday.com)...a seasonal red wine.  Red wine was not my drug of choice..Chardonnay was.  Oh my...was Chardonnay ever my drug of choice!  However, I will never forget going into the grocery stores shortly after getting sober and seeing the endless stock of that beautiful Beaujolais Nouveau staring back at me... beckoning me to WANT to buy a bottle.  Oh god, I so wanted to get that particular bottle of wine more than the Chardonnay at that particular time because it was a Thanksgiving ritual.  It was OUR ritual.

When I got sober on October 6, 2009...I had NO idea how the hell I was going to get through the entire holiday season AND why the hell that date with it being so close to the holidays!  Well...with the DUI (driving under the influence) case lingering over me, my dire liver test results and my family relationships getting worse one by one, I had two choices here.  Either, I ignore my liver test results that indicated that I had merely months to live if I were to continue the 24/7 drinking path that I was on before October 6, 2009 or I get my sh*t together and live a healthier and productive life so that I can rebuild any relationships with family and friends who would still have me in their lives.

Thankfully, I chose the latter...to get my sh*t together.

It is through friends who share that they are either struggling with coming to terms with accepting that they have a problem with their drinking or friends who are struggling with a family member or friend who are raging alcoholics in strong denial of their drinking problems that make me grateful that I do not drink anymore.  I listen, intently, to those friends who share with honesty but then quickly make excuses or find reasons for their drinking themselves or for their family member or friend.  And as I listen, I so remember my days of drinking, especially towards the end of my drinking.

The days of early drinking, the in-between sobriety and the dire last days of drinking will forever stay imprinted in my mind and heart.  I was so selfish back then, especially towards the end of my drinking.  I would find ways to get that drink no matter what it took.  And the last year of my drinking, it wasn't so much of 'enjoying' the drink but it got to the point that I needed to have that 'fix' or I would get the shakes so bad.  I cannot imagine how difficult it was for my husband, Damon, my two children, my mother, my family and friends watching me nearly killing myself through my drinking.  So, to my friends who are greatly affected by their loved one by their drinking...I so feel for you and you have my heart supporting you through and through.

I hated waking up in the morning.  That was when I knew that if I didn't have my wine, I would get the shakes.  Oh god, the shakes were the worst.  I will never forget the first time that I realized that my drinking was getting really bad.  I was with my daughter when she was 6 or 7 (my brain is having a freeze right now) when we attended my brother's wedding.  One night, I remembered that I drank myself to a severe state of drunkenness.  And the next morning, I had the shakes so bad and was desperate to get some wine so that the shakes would stop.
I knew I was in trouble. 

Chuck E Cheese Restaurant was across the street from the hotel where we staying.  I could barely walk over there with my daughter in tow. When I got there, I ordered some food and a glass of Chardonnay.  Back then, I was barely eating because alcohol was my staple food.  And I was down to 88 lbs at one point.  I had to order food not only for Amanda but had to make it 'look' like I was eating.  However, in reality, I just HAD to have that glass of Chardonnay! 

But what really hit me hard were three things. One, I could not carry the tray of the food and my wine because I had the shakes so bad.  Two, the cashier KNEW I was having severe alcohol withdrawals and not only offered me a straw, she held the wine glass and the straw so that I could drink my wine.  It took a few swigs of the wine to get me 'balanced' and to get those damned shakes to stop.  AND thirdly, looking into the pained and sad look on Amanda's face...those big brown eyes looking at me pathetically and with her embarrassment of me.  That was something that will always haunt me...even to this day. 

I will never forget that day.  I knew I was doomed.

BUT, did that stop me?  Hell no.  I kept going...and going.

Going back to rehab was NOT in the cards for me.  Yes, some of the lyrics from the  Amy Winehouse's song, "Rehab" comes to mind...

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, 'No, no, no.'
Yes, I've been black but when I come back you'll know, know, know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go, go, go


(Lyrics:  http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/amywinehouse/rehab.html  )


I, sincerely, thought I did a good job of 'hiding' my bottles, mugs of wine and 'sneaking' off to find my thermos of wine to just have that 'fix'. That was not the case.  My husband found many of my bottles all over the place.  And when I would sneak out thinking no one would notice, they did, indeed know what I was doing.  These were selfish things I was doing while nearly killing my health at the same time.  I was in a 'fog' in serious denial.


When I, finally, got sober...my head started to clear up somewhat.The numerous places I hid my bottles of Chardonnay began to surface.  I remember after I was able to get back on my feet in my early sobriety that I started looking in and out of my house to find not ALL the bottles but A LOT of them were located.  Let's start with the bedroom, my closets held many empty bottles that I hid.  Three empty Paul Thomas bottles...in socks, a large duffel bag and behind my clothes hanging on the rack.  Then there were the ones hidden under the kitchen sink cabinet.  There were SO many hidden outside...under the deck, the firewood pile in the carport...and the list goes on here.

Finding these empty bottles was a humbling experience and a huge step in accepting that I was indeed in for a new and cleaner lifestyle...a healthier one, clean and sober.

What I am sharing here is that these experiences are what keeps me sober and in tact, especially during the holidays.  Remembering where I was and finally coming to terms that I was sick and tired of being 'sick'...these help me to stay sober.  And for that, I am forever grateful for being sober.

Each year during this time of the holidays, it gets easier.  For those getting sober or thinking about getting sober, it truly is one day at a time.  The hardest thing, at least for me, at the beginning is truly accepting that you have a problem with the drink and then moving past that.  I cannot stress enough to you that is imperative to have a strong support group who love you, unconditionally and will be there for you the best they can, ie. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), church or simply family and friends in your inner circle whom you trust. 

When you find yourself having a hard time with the holidays, reach out to someone you can trust to share your fears and insecurities.  Often times, it really helps to have someone or more who have been in your place with the early sobriety that you are now experiencing.  And it helps to stay busy (at least it is for me) so that you aren't thinking about that drink.

I stay busy with helping to care for my 92 year old mother (nearly) daily; photography for me is so therapeutic and I have a wonderful Facebook community page, Secret Shoreline, where I promote everything that benefits our Shoreline (Washington) community and at the same time giving back to my community. 

My Secret Shoreline Facebook community helps me with two causes that are near and dear to my heart.  The Back-to-School Backpacks (late August) is for the families in Shoreline who cannot afford school supplies for the start of the new school year AND my favorite is my Secret Shoreline Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets which gives deserving families the same opportunity for those of us who can..to celebrate Thanksgiving as well.  I am so proud of this page and am so grateful that it has helped me to stay sober.

Here is the link to the photo album of our 3rd Annual Secret Shoreline Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152876469998523.1073741852.336141008522&type=3

If you relapse or are not ready to stop drinking just yet, do not beat yourself up.  And do not allow anyone or any event to make you feel bad, make you feel guilty or shame you. Only you know when you are truly 'sick and tired of being sick'.  You are not a bad person for not being able to stop drinking at this time.  There will be a sign of some sort that will reveal itself to you to tell you that it's time to stop drinking.  Let's pray that it is not too late.

Please remember that this is YOUR journey.  You get to decide who and what helps you to get sober and stay sober.  Do not ever let anyone judge you or persuade you differently.  Just listen and always have an open mind.  You are so very important to those who want to see you succeed.  Surround yourself with positivity.  Embrace change with an open heart.   

May the upcoming holiday season bring you joy, love and light and to allow this time for you to find some inner peace throughout your journey of sobriety. 

I believe in you and so does the Angel who is looking over you.

With much love and straight from my heart -

Lien










Monday, October 13, 2014

Celebrating new changes...

(Photo:  LTT - Seattle Japanese Garden)

"Tranquility is not weakness;
from tranquility emerges power and strength."
- Unknown
__________________

This blog entry is dedicated to my mother, Betty Tisdale

and my brother, Patrick Tisdale, for believing in me
and loving me, unconditionally.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
__________________

Oh dear...it has been nearly a year since my last entry, October 18th, 2013! 

So much has happened since then and once again, I don't know where to begin.  Sigh.  And with a deep breath, here goes...!

I glanced over a number of the entries that I have here and realized that a lot of them were depressing but were real...shared by my raw feelings.  I am glad to share that this entry will be more upbeat.

Firstly, I just recently celebrated *5 years* of sobriety on October 6th, 2014!  I am both proud and in awe to have accomplished this milestone.  And to be honest, I can't believe that it has been 5 years already. 

I can remember clearly of my humble beginning of getting sober.  It was really tough and often times it was almost too much to handle.  The days of attending outpatient therapy, court ordered AA meetings and everything that was related to my DUI (driving under the influence) case seem so far yet it feels like it only happened yesterday. 

I thought it was never going to be over and many times wanted to give up.  But, I got through it all and came out a stronger person.  And a wonderful thing happened!  I started having confidence in myself that was severely lacking throughout my life. 

One of the many things I learned all along in this new journey was to let go of the past and to move forward with my head held up high.  I stumbled many times but kept getting up instead of falling altogether.  I let go of my anger towards life and stopped blaming...finally. 

My success in staying sober has A LOT to do with my support team, starting with my wonderful and caring 92 year old mother and dear brother, Patrick,who BOTH believed in me and were my staunch supporters from the very beginning.  And I owe a lot to my loving husband, Damon, my family and friends as well.  Without them and my true desire to stay sober, I would not be where I am now...happier and sober!

Secondly, my husband and I are empty nesters!  At first, it was hard to believe that our children are now adults.  Our minds are still reeling in on this change...having the house to ourselves.  I really REALLY miss Jack and his friends coming and going through our house daily.  They were so much fun!  Alas, it is time for new changes.  And we are now accepting this and embrace it wholeheartedly!

With being new empty nesters, I have to say that I have not had much time to really dwell on the fact that both of our children are out of the house attending colleges, Amanda, a senior and Jack just entering as a freshman!  Oh MY how time flies!

Fortunately, I have been keeping busy with helping to care for my mother; getting this house organized; enjoying my photography (BIG time therapy - wink!);  being involved in a great page called 'Buy Nothing Shoreline (a community page that members gift each other items for free, requests to borrow or to simply be there for each other: https://www.facebook.com/groups/396681487124982/)
and very busy with my Secret Shoreline community page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Secret-Shoreline/336141008522.  Staying busy like this truly keeps me from being complacent which is easy to do and would easily lead me to go back to drinking.  And now being empty nesters this would have been a golden opportunity to allow me to be complacent...a dangerous trigger.  But, I have chosen to be busy and allowing myself to once in awhile say "No" which was something that I did not do well in the past.

And the icing of the cake of all these new and great changes through my sobriety is that  I have been blessed with an invitation on October 15th to be a guest speaker to the Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP) group at the Center for Human Services here in Shoreline, Washington. I am a proud 2012 alumni of this group.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to give my talk...and cannot  wait to share with this group that it can be done.  You truly have to have faith; find your inner strength and have a DAMNED good support group of professionals, family and friends whom you can trust to be honest with you, support you and love you, unconditionally.

I know that I could have easily continued the path I was on throughout my blog here of feeling sorry for myself and still blaming (even though in some entries I claimed I stopped when many times I did fall back into blaming) so many people and events over and over.  Instead, since  I was given another chance at life, I can now give back to both my family...and to my community by being accountable and responsible through my Facebook community page, Secret Shoreline. 

I am now more at peace with myself than I have ever been.  And it feels absolutely GREAT!

I want to stress to those who are struggling with the demon of alcoholism or any addiction, there is hope.  I didn't believe that when I was getting sober in October 2009 but over time, life has gently and patiently shown me that it is my friend not my enemy. 

Two things I had to do to move forward with my life in order to get better was to accept that I have a problem with drinking and to start forgiving myself for the emotional and mental damage that I inflicted on my family and dear friends.  It was then that I felt a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I could finally hold my head up high.  No longer is there a need to dwell on looking back but I now have a desire to move forward.

Life is too short.  Life is precious.  AND so are you.

People have asked me many times, "Lien, HOW do you do it?  How do you not want to drink?  It's been 5 years, don't you think you can drink now?" 

I love telling them that simply, "I don't ever want to go back to where I was 5 years ago!"  With that said, I want to share this song (dedicated to my addiction) which is in one of my earlier entries and is dear to my heart because life is so much better!  And just like the song title says, "Better in Time" (Leona Lewis), I ask you to please let time be on your side because life does get better and so will you.

With much love -

Lien

Better in Time - Leona Lewis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0L4EJqPLjk



Friday, October 18, 2013

Being honest with myself and staying strong...


(Photo from my personal photo gallery)

October 6th, 2013...I celebrated 4 years of sobriety and continue!

Being honest and staying strong have been daily struggles for me.  And so, my being honest with myself, I have had to accept over and over that I have a problem with alcohol.  I detest saying that I am an 'alcoholic' as it has such a negative stigma, at least that is how I feel. So from here on out, I will say that I have a problem with drinking and leave it at that.  I will only say that I am an alcoholic when I am in certain places where it is expected to say that...only there and nowhere else will I say that.

This past weekend, I attended a family wedding.  It was fabulous to see family from out of state!  But, that was the hardest thing to have to experience since getting sober...except for my mother's stroke. The entire weekend, there was alcohol all over - at my mother's, at the rehearsal dinner and at the wedding.  Mind you, that IS to be expected. Nonetheless, I was suffering inside. 

Friday night was a dinner gathering at my mother's.  I could not believe how much alcohol there was...both bought and consumed.  It did not get out of control nor was there any family drama.  But, I will be honest that I was effing jealous that I could not join in on the 'social drinking'. 

And my addiction personality was trying to take control of my mind saying, "Lien, you have come this far.  What's one drink?  Hey, get a glass of wine and take it back to Mom's den.  No one will notice as hardly anyone is back there.  And if someone comes back there, just hide it like old times." 

THAT thinking was what was playing in my head...the whole weekend.  I could have easily done that as there were so many folks around and yet, hiding places were so available.  Oh, it was a scene that I always detest to be in whenever I am in an environment where alcohol is that readily available.  FREE drinks.  Whoah!

Saturday night was not too bad. It was the rehearsal dinner at Marination in West Seattle.    I watched family and other rehearsal dinner attendees thoroughly enjoying themselves.  I did want to join in the fun festivities and the lively chats that got louder as the drinks were consumed.  There were a few times that I did want to go up and get a drink but knew that all eyes would have been in me and WERE on me. 

Sunday night was the wedding...what a beautiful and moving wedding it WAS!  Now, there was definitely a good amount of alcohol flowing through there.  The champagne glasses were filled with the bubbly champagne which was all too inviting...very inviting.  AND when someone sat next to me with their glass of Chardonnay wine...OH BOY, I was drooling.  All kinds of alcohol - whiskey drinks, red & white wines, champagne and etc. - were being served. 

Many times, I had to excuse myself from a circle of folks chatting while holding their glass of alcohol beverage to get some fresh air.  It was that bad for me.  Tears welled up as all I could think about was "WHY ME?!".  Then later I changed that thinking to "It's LIFE and that is just part of my life...it is me that is the one with the problem of drinking not the others who can and will drink in front of me."  I did not choose to be the one with a drinking problem.  I just have to continue to accept this and live my life as best I can.

SO, HOW THE HELL did I make it through that weekend with all those temptations?!?!!

I just DID.  I had to be honest with myself throughout the weekend that I DO HAVE a problem with drinking.  And I do not want to go back to the horrible life I was living, the lies I told and getting sicker over time.  In fact, I can still taste that last sip of wine I had when I said I was DONE.  Oh...what a horrible day that was but a wonderful and blessed one it was at the same time.

What gets me through the tough times of temptation are three things that constantly remind me not to drink:

1.  The DUI I got in July 2009.

2.  The devastating and dire liver test results I received in October 2009.

3.  My relationships with my children, husband, family and friends.

HOW I stay strong and sober may not be ideal for others who have been sober for quite sometime or for those who are struggling right now.  For those who know me, I will be honest that AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was not for me.  I do go back periodically to the meetings that helped me in my early sobriety.  It is through humility and gratefulness that draws me back to the AA meetings from time to time.  I would not be where I am without my humble beginning in the AA rooms.

Everyone has their way of dealing with staying sober and staying strong.  There is no right or wrong.  You have to be comfortable in your own skin and not worry what others think about you or have to say to you.

That was another thing that caused me to relapse over and over before I finally said "Enough is enough!".  I was constantly worried about what people thought of me. Case in point is my time on Facebook.  Yes, I am bringing this up again and hopefully for the last time.

I am constantly ridiculed for being on Facebook all the time.  It HURTS when people are constantly bringing THIS up.  When my brother brought up my time on Facebook over the weekend at one of the family gatherings, I got mad and very defensive.  Usually, I whimper and just let folks have their say and hope it doesn't get brought up again...at least for awhile.  Well, when my brother mentioned my Facebook time, I blurted out (with confidence) "Don't EVEN begin to judge me on the Facebook issue.  YOU have NO idea what my story is...so back off!"  He was both taken aback and proud that I stood up for myself.  You have no idea how I was shaking after being firm with him.  I have never been this strong and dang it...it felt GREAT!

It is amazing how time has really given me more strength in my beliefs and confidence to know that I am a good and decent human being...with a disease called alcoholism.  Knowing that I can finally stand firm on not being belittled for what I do to keep sober, I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin.  It has taken a long time to come to this realization but having people who truly believe in me through and through is what gets me through these alcohol temptations I continue to experience from time to time like this past weekend.

Thank you, Patrick (my older brother), for showing me that I do not have to take what others say to me or about me to heart anymore.  I am who I am.  And for those who are struggling...there is hope.  You are given a choice to live or die from this disease, too.  Just make sure to surround yourself with positive family and/or friends who believe in you!  YOU are strong enough...just believe in yourself!

Yes there will be days that I am not so confident,  But, the days that I am strong makes up for those days I am not.

IT is indeed ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Thank you all for being here.  My sobriety means the world to me and so do each of you.  And, I say that from my heart to your heart. 

This song, "Strong Enough" helps me to get through some tough times...I am strong enough!








"Strong Enough"


I don't need your sympathy
There's nothing you can say or do for me
And I don't want a miracle
You'll never change for no one

I hear your reasons why
Where did you sleep last night?
And was she worth it, was she worth it?

'Cos I'm strong enough
To live without you
Strong enough and I quit crying
Long enough now I'm strong enough
To know you gotta go

There's no more to say
So save your breath
And then walk away
No matter what I hear you say
I'm strong enough to know you gotta go

So you feel misunderstood
Baby, have I got news for you
On being used, I could write a book
You don't wanna hear about it

I've been losing sleep
You've been going cheap
She ain't worth half of me it's true
I'm telling you

Now I'm strong enough to live without you
Strong enough and I quit crying
Long enough now I'm strong enough
To know you gotta go

Come hell or waters high
You'll never see me cry
This is our last goodbye, it's true

I'm telling you
That I'm strong enough to live without you
Strong enough and I quit crying
Long enough now I'm strong enough
To know you gotta go

There's no more to say
So save your breath
And you walk away
No matter what I hear you say
I'm strong enough to know you gotta go










 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Learning to cope with daily challenges...


My emotions have been all over the place lately and am not sure how or why they appeared to be so severe this time around.  They could be coming from the many challenges I've had to deal with since April 15th, 2013 when my mother had her stroke.  One could surmise the following to be contributing factors to me having had a near nervous breakdown last week... my pre-menopause; having a crazy schedule with helping to care for my mother 24/7 with my sister; our  improved financial situation (which I am not used to having); balancing my own family life, watching my children become near adults, my marriage and etc.

What I do know is that I needed to get my emotions under control or it would have lead me to drink again.  Once again this is a trigger for me that I know all too well.  So, if I didn't find a way to get a grip on this now...I was going to be in deep trouble. 

I, recently, came across this attached photo with the following quote which has been helping me tremendously to focus on the positive in my life.

"Sometimes you have to stop staring at your problems
and start seeing how beautiful your life really is."
- Unknown







The other thing that comes to mind here is that my life is now finally falling into place.

This is new territory for me.

My life is definitely by far from perfect but it is a lot more stable from the days when I was drinking.  I am making better choices, ie. having a healthier diet that includes fruit and vegetables and cutting out as much carbohydrates and sugar (Earl Grey tea is and always will be a staple in my diet - wink!) as possible, finally getting a couple more hours of sleep at night, communicating with more clarity instead of cowering, letting go of negative thoughts and people in my life, most importantly... learning to stop saying "I'm sorry" when unnecessary and learning to say "no" (without the guilt trip).  The list could go on but I don't want to bore anyone here.

Challenges can make one become truly stronger without realizing it.  I can so attest to this.  My reaction to unwanted and unwarranted situation and circumstances has surprised me recently...in a positive way.  What I have discovered which I have known all along from the beginning of my sobriety is that I cannot control people, things and events.  It is just not possible nor realistic. I just never applied it until now.  Better late than never.  So, now I let things happen.  I have inner strength and determination to become stronger each and every day.

I have used the 'woe is me' routine far too many times instead of saying to myself, "I am NO longer the person I was over 3.5 years ago!  Heck, I am not even the same person I was 5 years ago...and THAT person was scary and dangerous (more to myself than others - unless behind the wheels of a car)."  Today, my husband pointed this out and shared with me that I have changed...both inside and out in the past 3.5 years.  This was my aha moment.

I, usually, start off being upset with the challenges and issues that I have been facing with daily which always got me into a place where I knew that I cannot be in whatsoever.  Or I would have wanted to simply...give up.  That would have definitely lead me to the first drink.  AND trust me, I have been thinking about it a lot. Terrible thoughts about that first drink have been swirling in my head.  I was saying to myself over and over again..."I have gone over 3.5 years, I can handle it.  Right?"  Absolutely NOT!

Being stronger now has helped me to say NO to the first drink.  And what a relief to know that I can stay strong and feel empowered.

This is NOT to say that just because I can say "NO" now that I am above those who cannot.  I just have decided that I am the one making this choice to not drink.  I am the one who has to live my life.  No one can tell me differently.  We all have different approaches and decisions to make to determine what kind of life we want to have and live.

My way is not any better or right.  It is just my way.  I will never forget in my first inpatient rehab stay that it was shared to remember that your way is yours...and yours alone.  It is your life.  And I learned that you can't let others share negative thoughts or encroach your life that would not be conducive to your sobriety. 

I am thankful that I continue to stay strong with positive people in my life.  I have a great family support system and selected friends who know me inside and out to guide me with positive reinforcements.

Writing all this out helps me as well and makes me focus on how beautiful my life really is, especially in this world where this is so much danger, deaths and other unfortunate situations that take so many lives, young and old, without warning.  I am so glad to be alive, still sober and to share my way of coping with daily challenges and hope you can take whatever you can from this blog entry to help you get sober...stay sober.

Thank you for reading this.  Your presence helps me to stay sober.  AND for that, I thank you for being here with me now and for being a part of my life.

This song has been one positive reinforcement in my sobriety through and through...



"When You Believe" (sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey) lyrics:

Many nights we prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful a song
We barely understood
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains
Long before we knew we could

There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
Its hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe

Mariah:

In this time of fear
When prayer so often proves in vain
Hope seems like the summer bird
Too swiftly flown away
Yet now I'm standing here
My hearts so full, I cant explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought Id say

There can be miracles
When you believe (Whitney: When you believe)
Though hope is frail
Its hard to kill (Whitney: Mmmmmhhh)

Whitney and Mariah:
Who knows what miracles

Mariah:
You can achieve (Whitney: You can achieve)
When you believe
Somehow you will

Whitney and Mariah:
You will when you believe

They don't always happen when you ask
And its easy to give in to your fear
But when you're blinded by your faith
Can't see your way clear through the rain
A small but still resilient voice
Says hope is very near

There can be miracles (Miracles)
When you believe
Though hope is frail
Its hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe somehow you will
Somehow you will
You will when you believe
When you believe

Sweet smiles from -

Lien





Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fighting hard against my triggers to NOT drink so that I could celebrate with my mother and family on Mother's Day...

It has truly been a wonderful Mother's Day ! 

(a few tears roll down my cheeks as I write this blog entry right now)

I was able to celebrate this special day with my 90 year old mother who had a stroke on April 15th, 2013 and has recovered miraculously well.  Exceedingly well, that is!   Some of my family were here to celebrate with us, too.  IT was a joyous occasion for certain.  We are so truly blessed to have my mother, Betty Tisdale, still with us and showing us how strong and resilient she is!  And this is reminder that my mother is human and not as invincible as we would like her to be. 

April 15th, 2013...is a day I will never forget but would love to forget but cannot.  My daughter, Amanda, had a scheduled dinner date with my mother planned on that day.  Amanda was done with her appiontment in Fremont, the neighborhood next to Queen Anne where my mother lives, at 4:00pm.  She wanted to go back to her dorm at the University of Washington to get a few things and told me that she didn't want to have dinner that early.   I tried to convince her that we were already so close to Nonnie's ('grandmother' to all of her grandchildren) and that it would give them more time to visit. 

AND I was feeling guilty that I had not made any effort to see my mother in quite a long time.  My mother knows all about my private and personal ongoings in my life that I had gone into yet another deep depression.  So, when I go into a deep depression, I don't want to be around anyone, especially with my mother.  WHY would I not want to go and see my mother is unsettling.  She is my best friend, for goodness sakes!  I decided I would go into see her once we made the decision to take Amanda to my mother's.

After 10 minutes of going back and forth with Amanda about why she should skip going back to her dorm then taking the bus over to my mother's (another hour or more for time on the bus and arrival time to my mother's house from her dorm) and have me take her up to my mother's instead, I won the conversation.   Once we got there, Amanda called her Nonnie with no response.  Apparently, she tried to call my mother on her cell phone earlier and still had not gotten a phone call back.  My mother is very good at either answering the phone straight away or responding promptly if a message is left on her machine (yes, an actual and physical answering machine...a dinosaur aged gadget that was once popular!).

When we kept ringing the doorbell and knocking loudly on the door, she did not come to the door at all.  I asked Amanda to go and check to see if her little Mini Cooper was in her garage.  Amanda came back and said that Nonnie's car was indeed in the garage.  I kept knocking on the door and yelling out, "MOM!  Mom, are you there??!!"  AND not a sound.  I looked through her crotchet curtain on the window of her front door.  I could barely make out a body form on a chair next to her oblong china cabinet. 

I was frantic by now and did not want to alarm Amanda just yet.  I wasn't sure that it was my mother's body in there and if it was hers, was anyone in the house robbing her house and/or did something to her.  Okay, panic was rushing through me and I was sweating in fear right then.  I had Amanda go to the secret hiding place to get the key to her house.  We got in with Amanda following very closely behind me.  IT was NOT a sight I had ever imagine of seeing. 

IT was indeed my mother who was slumped over the chair with her left arm on the china cabinet and her head laying on top of her arm with vomit on the side of the cabinet.  Scared sh*t, I touched her gently and she did not move.  I shook her again and calling her name out loudly.  She opened her glazed eyes, eventually, but could not get her words out.  I had some hope that she was able to do more than open her eyes.  Amanda was also saying, "Nonnie, it's Amanda and Mommy....can you hear us?"  We continued to try to make some sense of what was happening as I have never seen my mother like this.

We called my sister, Kim and she came right away from her work - a mere 10 minute drive from downtown Seattle.  She was great even though she had ME clean up my mother's vomit.  I was pissed and yet uncontrollably in tears not knowing what was going to happen to my mother.  I stayed behind, reluctantly, to clean up the vomit as we had no idea how long it would be if we all went to the hospital and the smell of vomit over any long length of time would really smell disgusting.

The time frame that my mother was alone had to have been from 12pm noon (when my mother's best friend dropped her off from their weekly brunch) to 4:30pm (when Amanda and I arrived).  Had we NOT gotten there when Amanda and I did...we all shudder to think how much damage her stroke would have left her.

When I knelt down to clean up the vomit, I cried so much that I fogged up my glasses.  Yet, through the fogged glasses, I saw all the alcohol my mother has around in her kitchen and dining room.  I was SO tempted.

While the temptation to drink was staring me in the face, I fought HARD to keep these feelings from winning,  Deep inside inside I continue to feel that I am never going to amount to much even at the age of 47.  AND THIS always brings me down...very down!  My marriage, our finances, my struggles with my sobriety and etc. were overwhelming me.  I used drinking in the past to numb my feelings about them all.  Now that I am nearly 4 years sober, one would think it would be easier...not so.

The truth is that while I have been fighting these triggers that nearly made me relapse BIG time, I've had to face them once again...sober.  I detest these triggers allowing me to even think about drinking again.  Once again, the blaming, anger and frustrations started to take over my negative thinking and I could hear myself saying, "IF I could only have a drink to make me forget these feelings I have...just one drink....I'll be fine then." 

Red flag here
!

I have been asked by many how did I get through April 15th and the oncoming days that lead up to today's wonderful and miraculous day without a drink.

Simply for me, I have three firm and  realistic reminders as to WHY I know I cannot pick up another drink.

1.  "I am powerless over alcohol" (1st Step in the 12 Steps in AA).
2.  My liver test results I received in October 2009 confirming I had damaged my liver so badly that I was so close to having Cirrhosis of the liver.
3.  AND I read often the "Letter from my Addiction" which I will re-post here to show how scared I am to drink ever again.
_______________________________________________________

"Letter From My Addiction"...


* This letter was given to all patients and myself at my first stay at an in-patient rehab here in Seattle, Washington in 2005.
Dear Friend,

I've come to visit once again. I love to see you suffer mentally physically spiritually and socially. I want to have you restless so you can never relax. I want you jumpy and nervous and anxious. I want to make you agitated and irritable so everything and everybody makes you uncomfortable. I want you to be depressed and confused so that you can't think clearly or positively. I want to make you hate everything and everybody-especially yourself. I want you to feel guilty and remorseful for the the things you have done in the past that you'll never be able to let go. I want to make you angry and hateful toward the world for the way it is and the way you are. I want you to feel sorry for yourself and blame everything but your addiction for the way things are. I want you to be deceitful and untrustworthy, and to manipulate and con as many people as possible. I want to make you fearful and paranoid for no reason at all and I want you to wake up during all hours of the night screaming for me. You know you can't sleep without me; I'm even in your dreams.

I want to be the first thing you wake up to every morning and the last thing you touch before you black out. I would rather kill you, but I'll be happy enough if I can put you back in the hospital, another institution or jail. But you know that I'll still be waiting for you when you come out. I love to watch you slowly going insane. I love to see all the physical damage that I'm causing you. I can't help but sneer and chuckle when you shiver and shake, when you freeze and sweat at the same time, when you wake up with your sheets and blankets soaking wet.

It's amazing how much destruction I can do to your internal organs while at the same time, work on your brain, destroying it bit by bit. I deeply appreciate how much you sacrifice for me.

The countless good jobs you have sacrificed for me. All the fine friends that you deeply cared for-you gave them up for me. And what's more, for the ones you turned against yourself because of your inexcusable actions-I am more than grateful.

And especially your loved ones, your family, and the most important people in the world to you. You even threw them away for me. I cannot express in words the gratitude I have for the loyalty you have for me. You sacrificed all these beautiful things in your life just to devote yourself completely to me. But do not despair my friend, for on me you can always depend. For after you have lost all these things, you can still depend on me to take even more. You can depend on me to keep you in living hell, to keep your mind, body and soul.

FOR I WILL NOT BE SATISFIED UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD, MY FRIEND.


Faithfully yours,



Your addiction and drug of choice
________________________________________________________

Everyone has their way of dealing with life...a terrible disease like this alcohol addiction, stress, anger, frustrations and etc.  It is how we deal with them.  You have to be the one to decide WHO is in charge of your life.  You can listen to others - positive and negative ones.  But, ultimately YOU are the one living your life the way you choose it.  Once you believe in yourself and  are not influenced by others...you will find that sobriety can work for you when and ONLY WHEN  you accept your decision to DO something about your addiction.  There are so many friends and family who are my staunch supporters and love me, unconditionally and know that I have my hard days (like the ones previous to today and many more to come) that will remind me that good days are ahead only if I allow them to happen by staying sober...one day at a time, one hour at a time or one minute a day (and this applies for so many newly in sobriety).

You can do it...and there is definitely hope for you if you are fighting sobriety.  IF I can do it, please know there is hope.  Believe in yourself and surround yourself with unconditional love and a positive outlook.

Even in my darkest days, I knew that there was a light of strength, hope and love waiting to get me through it all.  And this stroke my mother had....THIS was another reminder that LIFE is SHORT so we all need to find some way to make the best of it and tell show our loved ones how much they mean to them and to say those three simple words..."I LOVE YOU!".

Wishing my mother and all mothers a beautiful and wonderful rest of your Happy Mother's Day!

I  am so very lucky and blessed to have my beautiful and strong 90 year old mother still here with us.  I will not let another day go by without contacting her via in person, telephone call or e-mail...even if I go into a dark place again.

I love you so much Mom! 


















May 1st, 2013...my mother was discharged from the hospital!  My sister and  I watch and care for my mother 24/7 since her discharge, along with help from my daughter, Amanda, whenever she can.  I was ever so grateful to my brother and his wonderful family for helping me out last night giving me a night off to get rest!

With much gratitude and love from -

Lien

P.S.  My mother gave me permission to share about her stroke.  She said, "If you could get through this without drinking then I hope this helps others fighting this disease.  So, please, share about my stoke in your personal blog, Lien."