Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trigger Mountain

Years ago I dragged my oldest brother to a huge party in our hometown, This party was a yearly event and half the town was invited and the other half spent the evening wondering what they'd done to piss the hosts off. My brother, Pat, had been sober well over 10 years at this point, he no longer lived in our hometown and both he and I thought it would be a great chance for him to see a bunch of old friends.

We'd been there about an hour when he sought me out.

"I need to go, " he said.

"Oohkay...just let me find so-and-so and say, 'Good-bye," I replied.

"No," Pat said, "I need to go. NOW!"

So, we left.

I remember wondering how the pull to drink could still be so strong in my brother who had never shown a moment of weakness in over 10 years.

I found out a few days ago.

The minute I got the word out that I'd published my book, I hitched up a rented airstream camper and headed into the depths of Yellowstone, far from internet and tv and all social media.

The Tetons and Yellowstone are slices of untouched paradise here on earth, mouth dropping beautiful,but when we were done with sightseeing every day and back at our campsite, with nothing but a roaring campfire and nature to distract me, I was at loose-ends with myself. I didn't have the book to work on, I didn't have my cycle of social media interaction to lasso me in, I didn't have the mindlessness of tv...

I was bored out of my gourd and that is dangerous ground. Because I knew the one thing that could end that boredom. I wouldn't have to do a thing but drink, and all of a sudden the enchantment would begin. The pull was strong. After five years.

This was my and the cap'n's first voyage into camping. I'd camped as a kid, but he never had, and two days in to the trip, I could tell he wasn't warming to my vision of our future spent in a vintage trailer on an endless ribbon of highway.

I knew if I'd still been drinking, it would have seemed so much more fun. We would have gotten  drunk around that campfire and sang and danced and we'd would have convinced ourselves that the camping life was the life for us.

That's how we ended up on a boat.

That's how we ended up in Mexico.

Continually drinking until a new life seemed to hold all the promise that our current life didn't.

Now I don't drink and this life I have is my life, the life I've worked to build for five years. There are times it is boring, there are times I wish it were enhanced and more enthralling than it is.

It would be so easy and quick to make it so.

And totally devoid of any effort or value.

I'm done escaping, I don't need to go find a better life.  I'm staying here where I belong.  Maybe I'll hang some new curtains.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I Did It!

When someone asks me if I'm never drinking again, I always say, "I'm going to wait five years, then see how I feel.

Well, five years is here....

Ask me in another five.

Actually, my soberversary was on September 13, but I've been busy.






The book is done!

As I say in the book, I have no idea what will happen with this book. I may enjoy a couple of days of accomplishment for it to only fade away. But the thing is, just like this blog, writing this book is something I was supposed to do. Did this blog bring me the fame and fortune or notoriety I might have dreamed of in the beginning? No. It brought me so much more. It brought me back to myself. I can't wait to see what this book brings, because I know it will be more than I ever expect.

Thank you to everyone who contributed and thank you all, every single blogger, recovery community member, oldies and newbies who have inspired me.

Now, I'm starting to sound like Miss America, so just give me my sash and my crown and I'll walk.

Oh, yeah, if you want to check out the book, hit the cover on the right upper side of this page. I hope you enjoy.

In case the button doesn't work, (I am not an IT tech!) here's the link:

Neighbor Kary May's Handbook To Happily Drinking Less, Or Not Drinking At All Quite Happily, With the help of the online community.  

Quite a mouthful, huh?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you order the book and then send me proof of purchase and the name of the online recovery community of your choice, I will donate half of the proceeds from your book back to the online community of your choice. 

One more thing, I cannot see who orders the book, in case you're worried.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Abs Chat is Fixin' To Start! at 9:00 pm EST

If you're hanging out thinking about how to not drink tonight, drop in to MM's abs chat. All abs talk tonight, no talk about moderating. We're starting in 15"

Abs Chat Tonight!  

Abs Chat is focused on abstaining from alcohol—on a permanent basis,
long-term, or even for a shorter period of time (like a 30!).
Everyone is welcome to attend, and to participate, but we won't be
discussing moderation techniques or plans. For discussions of
moderate drinking, we invite you to participate in the Monday Night
Book Chat or the Tuesday Night Online Meeting.
So if you're abstaining, planning to, curious about it, wondering
whether it would be a good idea, or just want to hang out for sober
fun, stop by!
See you there!

** PLEASE NOTE: Abs Chat will be held in the Abs Chatroom. When
logging in, use the drop-down box to select MM_Abs_Chat. If you wind
up in the wrong room, you can move between rooms by clicking on the
room list to the right of the chatroom screen. **

Friday, September 2, 2016

It Takes A Village

Some of us are able to win the battle against booze solely by blogging, some of us will need to find additional support,  I was one of the latter. Each of us are unique, and just because so-and-so succeeded by doing this-and-that, doesn't mean we will be able to. Don't follow someone else's footsteps, forge your own path. If what you're doing isn't working, get out there and explore, cut a new trail, there are so many communities, so many villages, out there. You just might find a home.

Shared from the new MM Public Hub:

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I didn’t want to join a support community. I didn’t think I needed one. I was a strong individual. I’d always worked better and accomplished more on my own.
I thought I could solve my drinking problem on my own, too. And, I tried. And tried. And tried. For thirty years. And, I got nowhere but deeper into my problem.
Why? Why can’t we manage to manage our drinking on our own?
The reasons are too numbered to cover here, but I think one reason is because our society, our main “village”, has become so “drinking is necessary to enjoy life” oriented that it attaches a stigma of disgrace and failure to those who openly try to improve their drinking habits. Seeking support from our fellow drinking villagers can result in censor and isolation. In fact, we often experience a surge in opposition to our defection toward healthier drinking.
It’s hard to mount a successful defense when the rest of the world is against you. And, that is exactly how it feels when we decide to either quit or reduce our drinking.
No matter how it feels, you are not alone.
According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (the NIAAA), about 16.3 million adults in the U.S. suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2014 and about 1.5 million sought help.
1.5 million people sought a new village, and that’s just in the U.S. There are people worldwide who are looking for villages of people like them. People who want to take back control of their drinking. People who want to take back their lives.
Every day, new online support communities populated by people who are struggling with drinking problems or addiction are cropping up. Unlike the traditional methods of recovery, these online communities allow members to reach out for support from the comfort of their own home. These communities offer 24/7 support from members who are either facing the same struggles or have faced them in the past. Finally, there is help and support for people, like me, who could not get past the obstacles of face-to-face meetings or rehab or therapy to reach out for help. While some members of traditional organizations may argue that it is impossible to be as accountable to a community that is only linked through the internet, not flesh and blood, members of online support communities report an enhanced security in sharing their experiences. As one member put it, “I had a hard time entrusting my anonymity and secrets with people who were court ordered to attend meetings.”
Why do members of these villages succeed more often and more easily than those that go it alone?
Again, the reasons are too many and varied to discuss all of them here, but I’ll attempt to cover a few of the strongest.
Validation: In our support village, or community, our goals for a better life are recognized and validated. Sometimes we need a chorus of voices to drown out that one loud inner voice, you know it, the one that keeps telling us we’re making a bigger deal out of our drinking then we need to. The one that rushes to reassure us we’re not nearly as bad as so-and-so or so-and-so. That voice to which we so easily concede after a couple of drinks, until the next morning when we remind ourselves, it doesn’t matter how bad so-and-so is, all that matters is that our drinking is causing us misery and we don’t want to feel miserable anymore.
When I joined MM, my new villagers didn’t wag their fingers at me and say, “Don’t you remember the last time?” or “Haven’t you done the same thing over and over enough times to learn your lesson yet?”
Instead, they said things like:
“I remember what that’s like.”
“Don’t give up.”
“Here’s what I did.”
“If I made it, so will you.”
I could count on the members of my support community to recognize the efforts I was making when members of my other villages, my friends and family, could only see that I hadn’t succeeded yet.
Strength and Comfort in Numbers: When we finally accept that we, alone, are not an adequate defense against our habit and when we realize our inability to conquer it alone is not our fault and nothing to be ashamed of-statistics don’t lie-we, once again, feel empowered instead of defeated. The act of seeking help, of joining an online support community, will be the first pro-active action many of us have taken against our drinking. We begin to feel like we are taking charge and taking back a small piece of our lives. If we can do this-because it is a monumental step that many are too afraid to take-what else are we capable of?
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others is not only our best defense, but we once again feel that we belong. We are not outsiders. We are fighting on the side of right for us and our other support village members. Together we can accomplish what we could not accomplish on our own. The proof is there in every victory, our own and those of our fellow villagers. It’s there in every message board or forum post, and there are many, that proclaims, “I could not have done it without the rest of you.”
The Nobleness of it All:
I have been a member of various support villages for six years and I can’t count the times I have witnessed nobleness emerge among each village’s members. For many of us, we come to these support communities when we are at the lowest point in our life. When feeling noble is a faint memory. Many of us who join online support communities lurk for a time before we feel ready to introduce ourselves. We’re just too afraid and too ashamed. For no good reason, but we are. Then we see someone step forward, someone who is also ashamed but not afraid to talk about that shame. They need help. They need to know that they aren’t as horrible as they think they are. They need to know they are not alone.
We are pulled forward, not for us, but for them. Because it is noble to tell someone else that we know what they are feeling, that they aren’t alone, and that we have been where they have been.
It feels good. It feels right. It feels noble and we want to feel more of that.
Ironically, I have also witnessed members who only interact with other members when they, themselves, need help. They don’t take part in daily care and feeding that goes on in the community. The encouragement of others, the gentle nudges when someone is sliding off track, and the checking on the health and welfare of others. I don’t think it is an accident that these members struggle far longer than others. They haven’t accepted the burden of nobleness and reaped the benefits of making themselves accountable for others. Often we will do for others what we won’t do for ourselves. That is what makes these communities work, our need to do our best to help the other members of our community. The need to get stronger to help others and ourselves achieve our common goals.
It is impossible to put into words all that my own community, Moderation Management, has helped me accomplish, as a matter of fact, I’m sure there are far-reaching effects that I will never know. But I do know that I would never have found my way to where I am without my fellow villagers there, the ones that went before me, raising a torch and showing me the way, and those that fought alongside of me, held me up and kept me from surrendering, and, now, the new members who encourage me to keep fighting for them.
Thank you, mi amigos. I love you one and all.
Kary May

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Had An Amazing Blog Written, But This Is Better

I'm lying, I didn't have an amazing blog planned. But a friend did share this link to an amazing article the other day and I thought I should share it with you. It really points out how we are bombarded constantly with in-your-face booze-it-up events. Booze has become the must-have accessory for every event in our life. We the sober are looked at with sympathetic eyes because we no longer imbibe in escaping from our lives.

Ah, my poor sisters, weep not for me, weep for yourselves. Life is so worth being here for.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bird Brained

I posted this on the Moderation Management Facebook page yesterday and some smartass ;) wrote back and said, "If you were this, waiting for a sign is it???" Okay, maybe they weren't being a smartass, maybe they have one of those brains that can't see the number in a square of dots or their brain sees the green light on a stoplight as red and vice versa. Good thing, they have people like me to spell it out for them.

"No Dumbass! Read the left side of the sign first (btw, I typed in "right side of the sign first" first.) and when you think the stoplight is green it's really red so don't GO for Chrissakes! You think, you'd learn after your kajillionth total body crunch! (medical term for, "Uh-oh, you're totally fucked up.)"

Now on to today's featured post.

I live in one of those 70's A-frame cabins, the ones that as a kid we used to see strung along the highways in Colorado and New Mexico next to signs that said, "Build your dream cabin in a weekend."  It is not a modified A-frame that actually allows for some straight up and down walls to which you can back up furniture flush with the wall, this one starts its A slant from the ground up leaving about 1000 sq. feet of living and breathing space in a home that measure 1800 sq feet of floor space.

Our cabin has that standard gargantuan triangle window nestled in the peak of the A from which you usually have tremendous views, unless it's our window.

You see, the cap'n and I are both afraid of heights and in the ten years we've lived here we've only worked our nerve up one time to wash it. We were both drinking back then so I have a feeling Jack Daniels had something to do with the abundance of nerve. We probably fought over the ladder after a couple of courageous pours.

Since one of us sobered up (me) the grime on the window has gone un-threatened.

We have the same conversation at the beginning of every summer.

Me: "I'm going to call someone to come wash that window."

The cap'n:"No, don't.  I'm going to replace it this summer with a triple pane."

The grime folds its arms across its hairy chest and  mocks me the rest of the summer.

Over the years, the occasional bird has flown into the window and knocked itself silly, tumbling down to our deck where it sits for a few minutes trying to get its wits about it and then it flies off all wobbly and unsure, probably wondering if it would be a good idea to give up flying altogether.

This summer, though, the birds have been signing up for kamikaze missions at an alarming rate. Almost hourly I hear their little bird-brained noggins hit the glass and I look up just in time to see them spiral down to the deck.

I guess our window has built up enough dirt that it has become like the silvering on the back of a mirror. When the bird flies up there, he sees another bird who looks a lot like him flitting around and a bunch of trees with a whole 'nother set of feeders full of corn right behind the mirror image of him. So he goes for it.

Now I'm not totally sure how bird brains work. Do they retain memories other than where my feeders are located?  Are there a bunch of other birds squawking from their little spindles on the feeders, "Dude, don't go up there, it's just a mirage. Get your ass back down here where the real stuff is."

If birds could read and I wasn't sober, I'd grab a ladder and climb up there and tape up a big sign,

"Danger! Objects in the mirror appear larger than life. They are not real! Listen to what the other birds are telling you! Fly the other way!"

Day before yesterday I watched as a little yellow breasted wren performed it's death spiral down to my deck. I went out, it was just laying there, its little wings tucked in close, its little eyes like those X's you see on dead cartoon characters. I looked for a tiny heartbeat. I ran my finger along the edge of its wing. But there was nothing.

I picked it up and took it to the bridge over our stream and let it go.

I'm sure you can get the moral of this story without me having to spell it out.

No, it's not that I need to clean the window, even though that's also true.

P.S. In my family, "Smartass" and "Dumbass" are terms of endearment. We're all immature second grade boys and girls out on the playground at recess, if we call you names, it means we really like you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Abs Chat Tonight: 9:00 PM EST

I'll be hosting tonight. Stop in and grab a fire extinguisher!"

A little bit about MM's abs chat. It's very informal, eventually we get around to talking about drinking. The audience is made up of MM members, most of them doing or attempting an extended period of abs. They are always curious to hear about life in Permanent Abstinencedom and how we made that choice. I'm sure they'd love to hear your stories if you want to stop by.

We do not allow any conversation about moderation during this chat, but we also don't bash moderation and tell them that they're wasting their time, because at MM we don't believe that attempting moderation is a waste of time. I liken my year of attempting moderation to the period of time that many people who choose abstinence right out of the gate spend going back and forth between absing and drinking-what a lot of the abs world calls relapses. I don't think of them as relapses as much as I think of them as learning periods. One more lesson that we have to learn before we have the knowledge necessary to accept that permanent abstinence from alcohol is the right choice for us. No shame in that.

Here's the info:

Abs Chat is focused on abstaining from alcohol—on a permanent basis,
long-term, or even for a shorter period of time (like a 30!).
Everyone is welcome to attend, and to participate, but we won't be
discussing moderation techniques or plans. For discussions of
moderate drinking, we invite you to participate in the Monday Night
Book Chat or the Tuesday Night Online Meeting.
So if you're abstaining, planning to, curious about it, wondering
whether it would be a good idea, or just want to hang out for sober
fun, stop by!
See you there! http://www.moderation. org/chat/

** PLEASE NOTE: Abs Chat will be held in the Abs Chatroom. When
logging in, use the drop-down box to select MM_Abs_Chat. If you wind
up in the wrong room, you can move between rooms by clicking on the
room list to the right of the chatroom screen. **