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This Could Have Been Me

Recently, someone recommended that I watch a video on Netflix. Lipstick & Liquor is a documentary film that explores the growing number of suburban women who become alcohol dependent. It is a film about women and alcohol – one in particular who disappeared on a frigid December day. Thirty-nine year old Julie stumbled away from a minor car accident, leaving behind her eight year old daughter, an open container of alcohol and a host of questions that baffled her family, her friends, and the police.  Days later, Julie was found dead right around the corner from her home. 
We had a huge snow storm several weeks ago and similar events unfolded right in my own neighborhood. I didn’t know the woman well, but had met her once through my husband. He told me that she also suffered from a life-threatening problem. She disappeared during the storm and was discovered two days later, a victim of hypothermia and other injuries.
This very thing could have happened to me! She came from the same culture, socio-economic status, and community as I do. She was admired and esteemed by all who knew her. 
I remember, awhile ago, I started drinking in the morning and walked down to the local liquor store. On my return up the steep hill home, I slipped into the woods to have a few drinks, hiding so my adult children who were home wouldn’t know. The glass bottle was tucked safely under the waistband of my sweats inside my coat. I placed my arms around my tummy to keep my prize from escaping from my grip.  
I had sneaked out of the house earlier, no one the wiser save for the occasional passerby and the liquor store owner. He didn’t recognize me because I seldom frequented his store. I was ashamed to be known as a familiar buyer in my own neighborhood. Years ago, when it was owned by different people and I was in denial of my disease, I was a regular. Back then, I told my kids it was the licorice store because I would purchase licorice for them when I stopped to get my own treat. My own treat ~ really?
The news of the woman in my community has hit me hard!
I picture that day.  She saw the snow coming, went to church, cleaned the house, cooked her family’s meal, all while sipping her drinks. I imagine her husband getting frustrated with her – scared and angry, helplessly taking away her keys. Then, after he left for work the following morning, the cravings hit hard. Without a vehicle, she grabbed some cash and began the mile long trek to the store. Ahh… the bottle.  Walking home, she stopped and hid to take a swig. She slipped in the snow, already a foot deep and still coming down. She reached for her phone, but realized it was at home. She couldn’t get up.
I envision her husband returning home from work to a cold and silent house. He calls his wife’s cell and it rings in another room. He is alone, completely alone. Out in the driveway sits the new fifth wheel they purchased to vacation with this summer and in the coming years of retirement. After a long while of comforting his anxiety, reasoning that she is with a neighbor, or on one of her long walks, he faces his reality. He calls 9-1-1. A report is filed. The adult children are notified. Days pass. Another needless tragedy has struck. 
Liquor and lipstick – the middle class career woman’s essential purse items. According to the documentary, DUI arrests of women have increased by 30% over the last ten years. Binge drinking by women is also on the rise. However, if you were to query a woman’s family or friends about her habits, many would not even know she has a problem. That’s because women are more likely to drink alone and keep it hidden. 
This could have been me. It could have been you. We must stay vigilant so that our families do not endure this type of senseless loss. I have so many questions. How do I reach out to women in denial, women at risk, women who believe they are fine because they think they are responsible, women who call themselves highly functioning? How do we reach these women before they die? How do we reach all women? How do we help homeless women, women of color, and women in abusive relationships? How do we help them find peace? 
It is my sincere hope that these women will discover the benefits of Women For Sobriety (WFS) and its New Life Program. To learn more visit https://womenforsobriety.org/
~ MAC
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Today Though

This is HUGE for me – putting myself out here!  One thing you need to know is that I’m a secret addict. My husband knows, my mom knows and my dealer knows.  That’s about the extent of it. I was in control until I wasn’t. It’s been all downhill from there. 
I have tried to stop several times, and have been sober for short spurts, but then I fell right back into my old habits. Soon it had escalated beyond my control!  About a month ago I got serious because I knew my addiction was bigger than my willpower. I’ve been feeling great, like I was gaining control of my life, but today though … today is such a tough day for me. 
I don’t know why.  Nothing has triggered me. I haven’t had a fight with my hubby, nothing traumatic has happened. Today though … today is such a tough day. I knew these days would come; so far, I haven’t let the devil in my head take control.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I’m afraid I will slip.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I need someone to lean on.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I could easily text my dealer.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I have to reach out to someone.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I am not going to give in.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I need support.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I AM NOT GIVING IN! 
Today though … today is such a tough day. I could so easily give in.
Today though … today is such a tough day. I WILL get through this.
Because today though … this tough day is what will make me stronger. I will not allow my addiction to win.
Today … I stay sober.

Women for Sobriety (WFS) is an organization whose purpose is to help all women find their individual path to recovery through discovery of self, gained by sharing experiences, hopes and encouragement with other women in similar circumstances. We are an abstinence-based self-help program for women facing issues of alcohol or drug addiction. 
Our New Life Program acknowledges the very special needs women have in recovery – the need to nurture feelings of self-value and self-worth and the desire to discard feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation.  WFS members live by the philosophy: “Release the past – plan for tomorrow – live for today.

~Zeta
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Home At Last

It’s very character building. I’ve laughed through tears of frustration, screamed so loud in exasperation that my voice echoed off the walls and talked out loud to coach myself through it. I’m painting some rooms in my new home and I can’t believe how time-consuming this process has been. There was wallpaper that had to be removed which took a full day and then scrubbing the wallpaper paste which took another full day. Hunching over counters and wrangling the heaviest of appliances away from the wall ~ it’s been a workout physically and for my patience.

I FINALLY finished the first coat and, while it continues to dry,  I’m going outside to shovel for the second time today. I am a first-time homeowner and learning patience, faith, and determination every day. I LOVE MY NEW HOME. I never thought I’d want to “settle down” but one day at the end of July, I realized (actually the universe told me) it was time. The most perfect wonderful home was waiting for me and every day I marvel at how lucky I am. 


Statement 11: Enthusiasm is my daily exercise. 
I treasure the moments of my New Life.

Safe in my bedroom are the notes for the event I’m co-hosting next week on our regional PBS station. It’s my debut on the channel and hopefully funding will be in place by the spring for a 13-part series that I will be co-producing.  Isn’t that the coolest? There are so many wonderful things happening to me, yet I honestly don’t even have much time to sit and think about them. I just keep saying “yes,” going about my daily routine and focusing on the tasks in front of me. 

My next door neighbor is an answer to a prayer that I hadn’t prayed. He’s about my age and willing to help with anything. He hauled all my leaves onto his trailer to take them out to the brush site, helped me get my lawn in order and I’ve consulted him on many other things. When he asked if I was going home for Thanksgiving (I am not close with my family), I told him,  “THIS is my beautiful home!” He seemed a bit horrified that I would be spending the holiday alone. But when I went inside after the conversation I wept tears of joy at the realization – I AM HOME!

I’m trying to stay cordial but not warm – I’m not interested in a relationship with him and I can tell he would be. The truth is – I’m not really interested in having a relationship with anyone right now. I have so much else to focus on and so much more to do. 

LIFE IS GOOD, life is calling to all of us to join in on its goodness.


Statement 6: Life can be ordinary or it can be great. 
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

I am enjoying every moment of my goodness because I have worked HARD to create this reality. I’ve spent years rewiring my thoughts and changing my behaviors. My work isn’t done because I keep accepting bigger challenges and I have even bigger dreams yet to realize. I could never ever give up my morning routine because it is what makes my life possible. There is nothing special about me, I just realize the importance of putting in the effort to get what I want and what I am worthy of. Because of Women for Sobriety, I am doing what I dreamed of as a child and countless things I never would have dreamed of. 

My life overflows with abundance and love! Sobriety isn’t about surviving or making do. Sobriety is about dreams coming true!

~running9bear

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How Do You Get It?

I’m struck by the fact that many women out there want to ‘get it’ but don’t know how.  The elusive ‘getting it’ – What the heck is ‘it’?  You know, I know, she knows, we all know what ‘it’ is!  The ‘it’ is a struggle-free sobriety, ‘it’ is staying sober, and I’ll go as far as to say that ‘it’ is also recovery.

You are going to change your life!  Your old way of life isn’t working for you, so here’s how you can change it.  It goes without saying that you must stop poisoning your system. Get rid of all the alcohol you have ~ dump it, flush it, don’t buy anymore of it… just get rid of it.  Here’s an easy three-step plan on what you’ve got to do when you’re wanting to drink/use: 1. make a plan, 2. make a plan, 3. make a plan.

Ok, so what do you do?  This getting it can be a hard thing to attain, I know.  Getting it takes determination and work – that is all up to you!  I can’t tell you exactly what your plan will be; your plan will be as unique as you are.  And yes, YOU are a unique, special person.  As we at Women for Sobriety (WFS) like to say – you are 4Ccapable, competent, caring and compassionate.  You’re changing your life, remember?  And you’re going to start looking at yourself in a new way, a way that will let you lead a ‘New Life’ – one without having to drink/use to get through it.

Part of your plan might include asking a professional for help.  Part of your plan might be using the WFS online forum–a lot. Part of your plan might be attending some sort of support meeting locally.  Part of your plan might be going to work without any money/credit cards in your pocket/purse so that you can’t buy anything to poison yourself on the way home.  Part of your plan might be figuring out a new routine to your day – maybe you’ll take a different route home; maybe you’ll do something else to relax at the end of the day. Your plan needs to be rock solid and air tight! There are so many great plan ideas on the WFS Online site. Check them out! 

Let me also recommend that if you don’t have any WFS literature that you go about getting some, and while you wait for your order – go to the WFS website and read some of the great resources there.  Read other information about addiction to learn what you’re doing to your body.

You need to take some time EVERY day (most people use quiet time in the morning) and reflect on the WFS Acceptance Statements, or concentrate on just one.  Think about how that particular statement(s) applies to your life.  Try thinking about your life with this slant on it, the New Life slant.  Remember, your old life is not working for you. You’re NOT going to get through life anymore by drinking.

Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. is the founder of WFS and she authored several books and booklets.  My all-time favorite is The Program BookletThat little booklet costs just $5 and spells out how this New Life Program works – You may order it here!  

I also highly recommend Goodbye Hangovers, Hello Life and Turnabout.  If you feel you can’t afford them right now, go to your library and get them that way.  If your library doesn’t have the books, get them through an inter-library loan – this is what I did initially, in a town of 535 people!  

Are your eyes glazing over because you’ve read this before?  Reading what Jean Kirkpatrick wrote is KEY to ‘getting’ this program.  So are you going to pull out your excuse book and tell me why you can’t get anything on WFS to read?  Get a grip, put the excuse book away, and start reading. Start changing your life today. You change by NOT drinking/using and by changing how you think and approach life.  You CAN do this! The support you will receive from WFS participants is immeasurable, it is comforting and I am always awed at how amazing the women are. The WFS website and the new online site is full of great information.  But YOU are the one who has to do the work of getting sober.

I ‘got it’ that I can’t drink/use anymore.  My old way of life wasn’t working. I use the WFS New Life Program every day, because it helps me grow and thrive – emotionally and spiritually.  It affirms that I am a 4C woman, and then some!


Statement 8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.


Wishing you all the very best success in getting it.  Believe you can do it!

 

Bonded,
Sue Kapacinskas
Certified WFS Moderator
Champaign, IL

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Why I Choose Hard

Everyone has her own reasons for choosing to be sober. Often the motivation is due to repercussions from a particularly devastating binge. Other times it is the culmination of a series of worsening issues affecting health, relationships, job, or all of the above.

Once you are here, doing the work and making the lifestyle changes, what is it that drives you to continue? Let’s be honest, sobriety is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. It’s downright difficult. It can be soul wrenching. It changes the trajectory of our lives and our relationships. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to people and habits that are no longer good for us. Becoming sober is as much a process of mourning as it is of rebirth.

So, what is it that keeps you on your sober path? For me, more than anything, it’s seeing and feeling the light coming back into my life. I often imagine I am sealed in a pitch-black room. Each tiny shuffle I take in my sobriety represents another pinpoint of light breaking through the darkness. As I inch further in my sobriety more light begins to stream through the walls and I not only see the brightness, but I begin to feel its warmth as well. As more holes of light accumulate, they start to overlap, changing individual spots into larger openings. I begin to see beyond my murky space.

I have a few windows now to gaze out on my world. What was once a dark and lonely place is becoming brighter every day. It’s warm and inviting. Someday, there will no longer be a wall at all; I will be out in the open with no need to hide. The shame and anxiety of those days marred by poison will be long behind me and a future filled with promise and hope will be stretched out before me. For now I am staying the course, even though it’s hard and it sometimes hurts, and it can feel scary. I choose my hard because there is light and life ahead of me.  


Statement 6:  Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

Bonded, Becky
(24 days sober with WFS)