My New Reality

I am canning peaches this morning.  They are gorgeous peaches from Grand Junction.  The only problem is that they are “clingstone” peaches.  They are very difficult to slice in any way that is pretty.  But they sure do taste good.  One website said to slice them the wrong way, and I found that didn’t work any better than slicing them the regular way.  I packed them in their own juice instead of adding sugar.  Looking forward to having unsweetened peaches in the winter.  

Though I swore I would never count down days, I am counting days until I retire.  I believe it is 25 work days.  I still have to meet with the retirement people on Thursday and then I will know for sure.  I will give notice on Friday.  I have given unofficial notice to several people who need to know, and the more advance notice I give them, the better.  

It has been ugly.  It has been difficult.  I have had very “important” people come and ask me not to leave.  That is gratifying, but has no impact on my decision.  

I wake in the night in a panic.  And then I wake in the morning with peace in my soul.  None of my dear friends, even those who are very fiscally conservative, think I shouldn’t retire.  Even my sister thinks this is overdue.  Of course, she thinks I will start another career where I will make “real” money.  I will likely work again, but it will be very casual.  I am so done.

I am very boring and repetitive these days.  This is all I think about.  

On Friday, my AA birthday, I went to the funeral of a wife of an AA friend.  It meant a lot to him to look and see a whole church full of AA people at the service.  His wife would not have been so happy about it, but funerals are for the living and not for the dead.  She never liked him going to meetings and she sure didn’t like us as people.  It’s OK.  I Just pray for him.  52 years they were married.   He is very cheerful, but he has always one to insist he is happy when it is clear he is not.  I pray he gets through this with the help of a loving God and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

I feel that I am on the cusp of a whole new life.  I am very happy about it.  Oh, I know it will have problems, because I am taking me with me.  But it will be different.  I will settle for different at this point.

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Thirty-One Years Ago Tonight

I took my last (please God) drink of alcohol.  I will celebrate my sobriety date tomorrow, because it is the celebration of my sobriety, and I celebrate the day I got sober.  

Tonight is just like that night 31 years ago.  A hot summer night in Denver.  We piled in the car and drove to the library.  I was driving up Wadsworth Blvd. wondering why I would be driving drunk with my husband and three kids in the car.  And for the first time, it occurred to me that I would be driving drunk because I hadn’t been sober in years.  There was probably never a time between 1979 and 1984 that my BAC wouldn’t have gotten me arrested – morning, noon, or night.  

I had a micro-vision of what a low-life I was.  And for some reason, it didn’t go away within a micro-second.  

The next morning I picked up the phone book and looked up AA.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today I spoke with my best friend who was the voice on the other end of the line when I asked for help.  It was the only 12 step call she ever did.  I have no doubt of divine intervention, because she was exactly who I needed to talk with that day.  And she was exactly who I needed as a best friend forever.  She now lives in England, and she long ago started to drink again, but she is still my bestie.  

I thanked her for the hour she gave me on the phone that hot morning in July 1984.  It seems so trivial now.  An hour on the phone, yawn.  But I had been so isolated for years that the only person I had to talk with on the phone was a paid professional who sent me a bill at the end of each month.  Detailing the phone calls.  Drunken phone calls.  

I could not believe this woman would spend an hour on the phone with me.  She understood me like no one else ever had.  She talked about drinking like me!  She talked about doing the same kind of insane things I did.  She was just like me!  It was a moment that has never left me.  That aloneness I had always felt left me that day.  

I am never alone because I belong in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  There I found a whole fellowship of people like me.  

God has been so very good to me.  

Thank you to each and every one of you too!  

Love, mc

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The Dawning of a New Day

The sky outside my window.  The colors do not show unfortunately.  There is just the slightest cast of pink along the roofline of my neighbor’s home.  It is just barely light.  Just barely.

Last week was horrible.  I hate to keep saying things like that, it is tiresome.  It is beyond tiresome for me to keep feeling this way.  As I drove to work on Friday I had thoughts of suicide.  I would have rather died than go to work!  But I went to work.  And had the worst day in my career, seriously.  I won’t go into details because they are too gory.  

I cried until my eyes were swollen mostly shut on Saturday.  I went to a meeting.   I talked with friends.  I asked for help.  I got plenty.  I ended up talking with two men who are in their first year of sobriety for over an hour.  That was immensely helpful.  I love them both, and they love me too.  They have a different perspective on life than I do.  They are closer to the disease and its horrible consequences.  They are amazed I didn’t want to drink.  Hell, that is the absolute very LAST thing I would want to do.  But I don’t think I was really grateful for that until I had that conversation.  

As I talked with people, it became clear that it is simply time for me to go.  My sponsor said that God apparently needs to shout at me to get my attention.  Because he has been nudging.  But I have been going along on self-will, deciding that I HAVE to work for another year.  I need the money, and make no mistake, I need the money.  But I don’t need money bad enough to go somewhere every day where death seems like a more attractive option in the morning.  

I am meeting with the retirement people on August 5, that was the earliest appointment I could get.  I believe that after that meeting, I can give notice and retire at the end of August.  In 6 weeks.  But I can’t tell them that, even though I would love to, until I know for absolutely sure that I can start getting a retirement check in October.  I am about 99% sure that I can.   

And then I exhaled.  It feels like I haven’t done that for a while.  Like years.  

Every woman over 60 I talked to seemed to have either had this same experience, or knew many others who did.  This is a common experience.  I am not alone.  My sister told me last night, “every job has an end, and this is the end of this job.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  It is just time to move on.”  

It is clear that I am no longer valued in my workplace.  Oh, what a wound!  I thought my heart would just stop beating.  But it didn’t.  I feel better now than I have for a very long time.   What a relief!

Thank you Heavenly Father for carrying me for all these years.  I know I don’t need to ask you to continue, but I will anyway.  And I will thank you with every fiber of my being for your wondrous ways.  

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Some more trickery

I was talking with a work frenemy yesterday and she suggested that I NEED to have a trip on the horizon.  We discussed possible locations of this vacation and agreed that I should visit my best friend in Cornwall.  She lives in a small fishing village.  She moved away from here in 1997.  I planned one trip to visit her and it fell apart.  I have never even considered it since then because it kind of killed my trust.  We are both a lot older now, and I think we have grown closer.  

I wrote to my friend and she responded immediately with tremendous excitement.  PLEASE COME. PLEASE COME. PLEASE COME.  she said.  And then rattled off all manner of tips for cheapest airfare, etc.  She invited me for Christmas.

I asked my only daughter who will be living in this town at Christmas time if she will be in town.  No, she is going to Montana with all the rest of my family.  I have a feeling I will be absolutely devastated if I am left in Denver for Christmas alone.  Just writing that makes my stomach flip.  

The cost of this trip, unlike the trip to Italy, will mostly consist of airfare.  I will be staying with my friend.  WE will cook.  We both LOVE to cook.  And have cooked together many many times.  It will be simple and not grand.  It will be restful, I think.  My friend is also an introvert who takes to her bed because she gets so exhausted from life.  She always did that, but now that she is in her 70s, she also has a heart condition.  

I think I can do this.  I think I need to do this.  Getting through this next year is going to be a long trudge, I wish that weren’t so, but all indications are that it is going to be difficult.  

I have been invited to a year-long weekly class at my local church (which is not my parish).  I think I am going to do that.  It will be a good positive and it may give me something constructive to think about.  

Last night I dreamed a handsome man fell in love with me and brought me a cake that said “will you? will you? will you?  marry me?”  All of our friends were so happy for us.  I was happy for me.  And then I woke up.  And remembered a long ago art teacher.  Miss Klein, the former nun.  She wrote in my yearbook “What dreams we have my dear!”  I loved her.  

Update on the date of a few weeks ago:  Oh dear Lord, I could have so fallen for him.  He was everything that I LOVE, but have learned to stay away from.  He started sending me all of his conspiracy theory e-mails, and his communications were becoming increasingly bizarre.  I stopped answering, and he stopped sending.  Simple, right?  right.  Too bad he couldn’t have been what he appeared to be.  Oh well.  How many of us are?

Heavenly Father, please hold me in the palm of your hand and help me to be strong in You.  

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Another Monday Morning

  There are three of these beautiful roses in my garden today.  The canes are tall, and the roses are beautiful.  It is amazing what a difference a whole lot of rain makes.  Watering can never do what God’s rain can!
I spent Saturday afternoon working on an icon.  It is almost complete.  My icon mentor is very ill and could die at any moment.  Her heart is shot and she has an inoperable tumor.  She refers to herself as an old hag (she is one month younger than I am) and other horrible terms.  I have always found it difficult to spend a lot of time with her for that reason.  We have all tried, now we all just shake our heads.  It is so sad.  She is morbidly obese and is now reaping the disastrous health consequences of that.   I hope to God she is able to beat the odds and live to see another year and decade, etc.  

I am increasingly dreading the thought of moving to Montana.  I have made my home in Denver.  I can’t imagine waking up in a strange town and wondering what to do.  Trying to figure out which grocery store has the freshest, highest quality food.  Who is going to cut and color my hair?  Which church is not on the lunatic fringe.  Which AA meetings hold to the traditions and know what our primary purpose is.  Which gym to join.  Having no roses :-(

Maybe it will be good for me and my brain.  It is going to be so much work.  I need to get started by cleaning the garage, and thinning all my belongings.  Yesterday afternoon I went through my closet and took out all of the suits.  I would not wear a suit on a bet these days.  But I used to wear them all the time, and I have some beautiful classic suits.  I need to give them away.  Next step will be all the shoes in my closet.  I have a whole rack of high heels that I no longer wear.  Those need to go quickly before they are entirely out of style.  

My big splurge this month?  A new pair of black flats.  Fancy, expensive, matte black Tieks.  They should last for many years.  I just realized the expensive black flats I purchased to go to my son’s wedding, now over 5 years ago, have separated, the sole is hanging free and my toes can actually pop through.  I think might be time to toss them!  

And those years when I was buying clothing indiscriminately?  I have clothes in my closet that now fit.  They are several years old, but have not been worn.  I could feel terribly guilty about that, but I realize it was part of a sickness.  When I stopped buying clothes for lent a few years back, I realized my need for clothes was pathological.  And when I was so depressed a few years back, I was buying clothes to try to make myself feel better.  All it did was create debt, but I am slowly plowing out of that.  

Slowly plowing out of my work life.  Slowly plowing out of debt.  It all feels like a slow plow right now.  

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Identity Theft Stinks!

Yesterday afternoon at work someone called me to tell me about an article on the front page of the newspaper that was of great interest and concern.  I immediately left work and drove to the nearest 7-11 to purchase the paper.  When I got back to work, I realized I no longer had my wallet with me.  A few hours later, the fraud alerts were popping up on my phone.  

The police were able to tell me what happened from the surveillance tape at 7-11:  I grabbed the newspaper, and was sickened when I saw what was on the front of it.  I paid the $1.50 (a buck and a half for a newspaper???) with two one dollar bills, and put the 50ยข change in my wallet.  When I turned from the counter, the wallet fell out of my purse and onto the floor.  

The man behind me in line picked up the wallet, looked around, and put it in his pocket.  The police have a good view of his face, but unfortunately were not able to get his license plate number because of the way the sun was shining on his car.  But today, I will bring them more info about all of the fraudulent charges and I am certain they will be able to find him from the surveillance films from the myriad stores he went to with my credit cards.

This is a pain!  I have been on the phone virtually non-stop since then, and still have many more phone calls to make.   This morning I have to go get a drivers license.  

Thank God for fraud protection.  It spotted all of the Walmart charges immediately and I think the guy only actually was able to charge about $800. worth of goods.  I have been assured I won’t be held liable for any of them.  

My identity is a little bit more worrying.  All of my insurance information, my drivers license, and I hope I am remembering everything.  I got a fraud alert with the credit bureaus.  Hopefully I am thinking of everything.

One of my friends heard this news last night and called.  She was horrified!  She kept saying that it was a “violation!”  Sure, it’s scary, and it is definitiely a pain in the butt.  But a violation?  No one touched me.  No one hurt me physically.  You can say things are “just like” being raped or beaten, unless you have actually been raped or beaten.  Believe me, this is NOTHING like being raped or beaten.

And for that I am grateful!  

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Forteen Months

My favorite rose.  The Fragrant Cloud.  This one beautiful rose looks stunning in the flower bed outside my front door.  The Chicago Peace has three buds on it, so be prepared for photos of those.  They are beautiful.  But the Fragrant Cloud smells divine!  I don’t even plant rose bushes unless the roses are fragrant.  To me the fragrance is just as, if not more, important than the physical beauty.

Still struggling with work.  I am getting a new boss at the end of this month.  That will change things.  I was in the interviews on Friday.  One candidate, external, is clearly more experienced and has the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities.  And great human attributes.  The other, internal, is well-liked and people are inclined to “give him a chance,” to move into management.  Oh dear God.  He has already stepped on my toes just as an applicant.  I hope to God the people who make the decision can be principled and hire the guy who can do the job.  Not the one who is “a nice guy,” who people feel inclined to “give a chance.”  

Here was the most telling q and a from the interview:  it was a hypothetical about an employee who is being a problem.  The rookie applicant says he would “document, document, document, and start the progressive discipline process.”  The experienced applicant says he would first meet with the person and ask “hey, what’s going on?”  Please Lord, don’t give me this rookie for a boss in the last 14 months of my career.  

I went to mass with a man yesterday.  I think I fell in love a little.  I hope I never hear from him again.  I hope we meet again and again and again and live happily ever after.  We went out for coffee and sat for three hours in a lovely cafe, open to the sidewalk.  Then we sat and talked in the car.  And then we talked some more.  For five hours, I did not even look at my phone or wonder about anything other than this fascinating man I was talking with.  As I drove away, I put this firmly in God’s hands.  And truly prayed that I never hear from him again.  I don’t think I have it in me to have a relationship of this intensity.  It’s nice to know I am still alive and still a woman though.  Wow.  

Have to coach myself to get to work, and really the only way I know how to do that is with gratitude:

  • Grateful to have a job where I am making more money than I ever dreamed of making (wish I was better with my money though)
  • Grateful for my little office, it is a small, temporary office while the hospital is remodeled, but it has a gorgeous view
  • Grateful that my AC got fixed last week (even though it cost $700!), it will be nice and cool when I get home today
  • Grateful to see if my new schedule of working out at night, going to bed later, and getting up later in the morning will be better or not

I better go.  Have a wonderful day everyone.  xxxxoooo, mc

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