Relapse 4-11-19

March 4th for the past 17 years has been my sobriety anniversary. Every year I celebrate another year of sobriety. This year I didn’t have that opportunity.

Many of you look up to me for being strong. I often hear I’m an inspiration. I’m extremely embarrassed but today I have to be honest with myself and all of you.

Up until last July I have faced my challenges. Often times white knuckling life and often times on my knees praying for god to grant me the strength to get through another day. Last July I had my breaking point. I gave up on myself, god and life in general. I don’t feel the need to share the personal details of what happened but I will say for me it was the last straw. I picked up a bottle. In the beginning my drinking was occasional but by December my drinking had become my only way of coping with the many challenges that life continues to throw my way. What can I say? I relapsed.

Last fall, I somehow managed to get myself in therapy as well as seeing a psychiatrist. It’s no secret. I am battling chronic PTSD. I also succumbed to agreeing to anti depressants. Still I kept drinking. I wasn’t going out or anything like that. In fact, I have to find the humor in the fact that I spent my evenings like a hermit isolated in my room, watching Hallmark, CNN and even Dr Pimple Popper while drinking a glass, or shall I say, a bottle of wine. I am so embarrassed.

Through the grace of God I recognized my downfall. I picked myself up and got my ass to AA. I was not only honest with myself, but honest with the people I love. I didn’t sugar coat it. I owned it. I have owned it ever since.

Today I’m 30 days sober. It sucks to start all over again after 16 1/2 years but I’m sharing because like anyone in sobriety I’m only human. I’m also sharing because I want everyone including myself to recognize relapse happens. The important thing is to recognize it, own it and start doing the work. I am attending AA four nights per week, celebrate recovery one night per week, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. I also have a life coach.

I owe myself an apology for letting myself down but more importantly I owe the people I love an apology for letting them down too.

Sobriety is hard work. Especially when life throws you a curve ball. Or in my case one curveball after the next. However sobriety is possible if you want it. I want it! I’ll do anything to stay this way including being honest. I’m not always perfect. But who is? One thing about me that those who know me is if I did it, I’ll admit it. Relapse….I did it and I admit it. I recognize it and I’m doing something about it. Thirty days may not seem like a lot after 16 1/2 years but I did it once and I’ll do it again. Thirty days is only the beginning.

With that said I hope that my honesty helps someone struggling today.

Sobriety Anniversary 3-4-18

Today is my sobriety anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since finding myself in the back of a police car on my way to jail after a weekend drinking spree. Ironically that infamous day was on a Sunday in 2002. My dad picked me up that day from jail. I’ll never forget that feeling of complete humiliation. It wasn’t until after my dad passed away in 2011 that my mother shared how my dad had been by my side for three days after as I experienced the withdrawals from alcohol. It’s crazy, but the one thing I still remember is my dad feeding me soup. Four days later I was in rehab where I spent the next 28 days in recovery. My life has never been the same.

Every year I usually re-live my story however this year I would like to do something different. Today I’d like to find the gratitude in the strength god has given me to remain sober. My life changed forever that day. My life hasn’t always been easy since then but the good news is I haven’t faced my challenges drunk. It’s been 16 years and I no longer want to re-live the past. That time in my life is over. Today I’ll just wish myself a happy anniversary and continue moving forward.

Sobriety is hard work but it’s possible. My song today is Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac. I chose this song because my dad was a huge fan of Stevie Nicks. He had the opportunity to meet her many years ago. It was the highlight of his life. Silver Springs is a beautiful song that depicts a love of what could’ve been. Here’s to me and to my dad and to the love that could’ve been if he was still here on this very special anniversary day.

Another Day In Paradise – Revised 5-24-17 

I wrote this blog two years ago on March 4, 2015. My sobriety date. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or being a voice of hope and inspiration for others hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “Another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 
Between the years 2000 and 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring to our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers. The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 
I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise. 

Happy Anniversary To Me 3-4-17

Today is my anniversary! Most people celebrate their wedding anniversary, sometimes their anniversary at being at job, etc. I celebrate my sobriety anniversary. For me it’s a celebration of the night god saved my life. Every year I post the story of my last drunk. A reminder of a dark time in my life. Today I’m not going to do that. I’d like to focus on something different or rather the person who touched my life and made a difference. 
As you all know I am a recovered alcoholic. I am celebrating 15 years of sobriety today. My last drunk was 3 fifths, a half gallon of whiskey and a bottle of wine. I cut my face, my arms, my legs and I burned off my eyelashes on one of my eyes. All this in 48 hours. What can I say? I like to go all out. Lol. My best friend and attorney, along w the help of my parents got me in to rehab a few days later. Prior to this I had gone through a year long challenging divorce w my ex husband. Of course that’s another story. I used alcohol as a way to escape the reality of a very challenging life. I entered rehab with the thought I was not an alcoholic rather an abuser. Of course I was in complete denial and couldn’t imagine calling myself an alcoholic. After all, I wasn’t homeless, I was always dressed nice and I was “woman of the Year” in my beta group. 

I met a woman in my group who was a corporate executive for Microsoft. She was successful, beautiful, dressed to the nines and…..she was an alcoholic. Hard to believe. She didn’t fit the stereotype we all have of an alcoholic. I had been in treatment for 7 days and was at my group. This woman was sharing her story. As I listened to this woman speak of her trials with alcohol I found myself resonating with her story. I’ll never forget she was wearing a beautiful creme colored pantsuit. Everything about her was spot on. She looked like she had stepped out of a magazine. As she shared her story I found myself resonating with some of the embarrassing things she had done while drinking and when she said “I’m an alcoholic” everything clicked. It was that “AHA” moment!! I blurted out “I’ve done that…….Am I an alcoholic?!” Tada! Welcome to treatment. 
It was that day I made the decision to accept I was an alcoholic and it was the impact that woman had when she shared that changed my life forever. I’m telling you this because we can be that woman too. We all have a story and we all have the ability to share our stories with others. Sometimes it’s that crappy, humiliating story that is an inspiration or hope for someone else. 

It’s funny I barely remember that woman’s face but I remember her creme colored suit. She was everything I wanted to be. She was courageous, she was honest, she was smart, successful and she was just like me. She inspired me to believe if she can do it, then so can I. I’ve never seen this woman again but the impact she had on my life lives in me forever. I want to be that person for someone else which is why I became a member of the John Maxwell Team. Their mission is to add value to the lives of others and make a difference. That is what I am striving to do. So today as I celebrate 15 years of sobriety I also celebrate the fact that alcoholism or even the events that led up to my recovery may be a part of my story but it’s not my story today. Today I am a survivor and I’m striving to make a difference. 

Sobriety 3-8-16

March 4th was my anniversary. I have been sober for 14 years. What a 14 years it’s been!! I haven’t been feeling well and received some distressing news at my doctors appointment last Thursday but despite the news I am blessed. I got home that night and my cousin had mailed me a package. Inside were 2 beautiful, healing bracelets she had made for me, a Con Brio (SF band I love) CD, a Survivor pendant, a made in SF t-shirt to remind me of the city I miss and love so much and the most beautiful card ever. My eyes filled w tears. I was a blubbering mess at the post office. On March 4th I got to my office and I was greeted with these beautiful flowers on my desk. I was shocked. I haven’t received flowers in a very long time. They were a gift from my friend from church congratulating me on 14 years of sobriety. The flowers came w a lovely card and a beautiful message. Now as you know I’m Catholic. As a Catholic flowers are a sign of love. They are also a sign from St Therese of Lisieux, one of my favorite saints, that our prayers are being answered. Talk about bringing me hope. I have some challenges ahead but the good news is I’m sober and I’m blessed to have some wonderful people in my life. Thank you Melissa Perez. I love you so much!!! And thank you Norma Espinoza. I’m so blessed to call you my friend.  

As I look back on the past five years it’s a miracle I’ve managed to remain sober. In 2011 my dad passed away. I was devastated. Two years later I found myself in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship and I was fighting cancer. Today my life is a mess. I’m overcoming financial challenges, I’m living at home with my mother and it appears my fight with cancer continues. However, despite the challenges I’m happy to say I haven’t drowned myself at the bottom of a bottle. For that I’m so grateful that the lord continues to give me strength to overcome each day without the desire to drink. Now I’m not trying to sugar coat sobriety by insinuating it’s easy. It’s not. Every day I have to make the decision to choose life over a bottle of Chardonnay or Captain Morgan’s. Just like I have to make the decision to keep fighting this nasty disease. Life is good. It’s even better when you’re sober. So if you’re reading my blog today and you’re struggling with an addiction or just a major challenge in your life. Remember…..if I can do it, so can you. Keep up the fight. Life’s worth living. It truly is. God bless to all of you reading today. May you receive your bouquet of flowers and may it be a sign your prayers are being answered. I know I’m expecting mine!!!  May you your prayers  be answered too. 

    
   

Another Day In Paradise 3-4-15

I wrote this blog two years ago. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or even being a voice of hope and inspiration hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. I washed it all down with cocaine. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 

Between the years 2000 & 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers.  The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 

I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise. 

http://youtu.be/YiUQE5bJKFU