Journey through September

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Pansies in the garden

It’s Monday morning and I don’t have to go to work or anywhere else.    This is one of the best things about retirement.  No dread on Sunday.  No schedule on Monday.  There is not even Mass at my church, so I am not off first thing to go to Mass.

I asked my son in law to help me paint my guest bedroom.  My dear brother and his dear wife are coming to visit me in October.  I took at look at the guest bedroom where they will be sleeping and realized it needed to be freshened up a bit.  Paint is always a good first step I think.

My dear son-in-law has ulcerative colitis and has been very sick lately.  I asked my daughter if he would be able to help.  She said yes.  He said yes.

They got here on Saturday and I said “Oh hell no, you are not painting.  Go sit down and what can I do to help?”

So today I shall paint the guest bedroom.  Please God, I hope I can still do this.  I used to love to paint.  I find it very difficult these days.   Aging is a real thing.

I tweeted something on Saturday night and my phone is still lighting up every minute or so.  I have felt like removing the tweet because it was very personal.  And now it has been like over 2,000 times and retweeted almost 500 times.  That is a weird feeling.

I can blog my heart and soul out here, but it is anonymous.  Or at least I convince myself it is.  That tweet is something entirely different.

This is what happens when I try to blog every day.  I blog about the extremely mundane life of a Catholic Retired 66 year old woman who has been Sober for 12,481 days (one day at a time).  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  xoxox

Posted in Junk-blogging, Retirement | 3 Comments

An Ordinary Thursday Afternoon

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I was in a triathlon on Saturday morning.  I had broken 2 ribs in August, so I had not trained.  I had kept walking daily throughout my recovery, and tried swimming and biking in the last couple of weeks and found it felt OK, so I did the race.  I knew I would be slow, because I am not running, just walking, and I hadn’t really trained.  But I did finish, and did not come in last, and wasn’t among the 20 people who did not finish, so I felt good about it.  Imagine my surprise yesterday to see some race photos where I am smiling and look happy!  So, that is what is above.  Me, walking along, feeling happy.

I think lately I may be doing a little bit of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides.  As an alcoholic, it seems there is always something that is there to fill that hole in my soul.  First it was alcohol, then drugs, then back to alcohol, then absolute abstinence from alcohol and drugs.  Then I had coffee and cigarettes, and I used both of them to wretched excess.  At seven years of sobriety, I was able, by the grace of God to quit smoking.  And as a result of that, my coffee consumption fell precipitously.  I really did like men an awful lot and relationships and dating take a lot of time and energy and sometimes make you absolutely ecstatic.  And then miserable.  In the end, that was something that I realized I would need to give up if I were to follow God as I wanted to, and felt called to.  That is difficult.  It is an entirely different lifestyle to live alone and not have any desire to have a “special someone” in your life.  Aside from God.

Through a great deal of time spent in prayer and meditation, I have realized I still am clinging to a major defect.  I like to buy things.  I like to get things.  I like to have things done.  I want what I want when I want it, pretty much.  In my working life, I could convince myself this was all OK because I worked hard for every cent I had and thought that as long as I was tithing and paying my bills, I could do what I wanted with the rest.  Sometimes that had led me into debt.  A few years ago, I was able to pay off the debt, and now I avoid it like the plague.

Recently, my neighbor and I decided to get our houses painted.  We got two different painting companies to come out and give us estimates.  Her house is much smaller than mine, so her estimate was approximately $3,500.  while mine was over $5,000.  It would be absolute folly for me to spend that much money right now, even though my house needs to be painted.  I had to say no.

It hurt me to say no.  I want a happy shiny freshly painted house like my neighbors!  Thank God I do love her enough to be happy for her.  But still pretty miserable for myself.

Then I thought about the fact that she wears jeans and men’s t-shirts every single day of her life.  She wears sneakers every day, for every activity.  She bought her house when it cost less than $100,000. and has just stayed there.  She has no debt.  She saves money.  She does not take trips to Europe and Hawaii.  She eats things like bologna sandwiches and hot dogs for dinner.   She doesn’t spend a couple grand on a bicycle just because she wants to.

This feels like the final frontier in recovery for me.  I just need to sit still and be satisfied with what I have.  I must stop thinking the next thing I purchase is going to make my life complete.   I know how untrue that is.

One day at a time.  Seriously, just like early recovery from alcoholism.  One day at a time. And doing things like unsubscribing to all the e-mails notifying me of SALE!s on everything I ever clicked on.  I can live very easily on what I have.

And I can eat soup.  And my delicious sour dough bread.  Simple.

It is time for me to knock off the acquisitiveness and covetousness.

By the Grace of God.

 

Posted in Bicycle, Clothes, Food, Friends, Meditation, Race, Sobriety, Thrift, Training, Triathlon | 5 Comments

Retirement 3.0

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I retired for the third time on September 5.  The next day was the 24th anniversary of the first day I started at the hospital.  This time when I retired, I felt the way people are probably supposed to feel.  A little bit sad, and feeling very reflective about all the years I had spent there.  Thinking about the young woman who started there and the old woman who drove away on that rainy Wednesday afternoon.

All summer long, I just wanted to be off work.  But when I truly walked out the door, I was sad and dreading the months to come somewhat.  This is not my first go-round and I know the perils that lay ahead.

Although it has hurt me almost physically, I have gone to mass nearly every day.  It is a hard time to be a faithful Catholic.  To realize that when you have been “playing by the rules,” and acting the way you have been taught is right, you might be in a terribly small minority.  That is painful.  To think that I may have confessed a small sin, bordering on scrupulosity, to a priest who may have been sexually abusing children, or at least participating in a culture that is tolerant of such behavior – produces a lot of anger in me.

Have almost walked out of mass a couple of times.  Most recently on Sunday at a nearby parish, that I really don’t normally feel happy attending, when one of our prayers was “for the victims of abuse in the church.”  Yeah, I almost stood up and yelled and stomped off.  But I didn’t.

How bout we stop praying for the victims and stop creating new ones?  How bout we stop promoting people who have participated in the culture, if not the actual abuse?  How bout they get evicted from their palatial homes and live like the rest of us?  How bout they take off their fancy red hats and silk garments?

The church is calling for OUR repentance on behalf of the church, but I see very little clerical repentance.  It is time.  It is past time.

I have decided to start blogging again, but I am not very clear what I am doing here now. At one time I had a blog really directed at people who needed to get sober or were in early sobriety.  As time passed, I realized that I was probably not the best person for that message.  At one point, I had another blog about fitness, to talk about training and races, and that was super fun.  I met a lot of really nice people, and learned a lot about marathons.  For a very brief period, I started a real Catholic blog.  It was terrifying, and I backed out of those waters quite quickly.  In 2012, when I was going through the worst depression of my life, I started this blog.  I just wanted to blog honestly about being a Sober Catholic.  And now I can add “senior” to that description.  Gross.

I felt at that time that the term “sober” was a qualifier to the Catholic.  Like somehow a Catholic who wasn’t perfect like the rest.  That I am an alcoholic, and got sober, and in spite of that, I am still trying to be a Catholic.

Now I feel that if more people were “sober” instead of besotted by lust or deviance, we might just have a better church.  I will gladly proclaim my sobriety and my Catholicism.

I hope I get some readers.  I miss blogging.  I promise I will be more cheery someday.

Posted in Retirement, The Church | 9 Comments

Scandal in the Church

I’ve been asked by people who know I am Catholic, what do you make of this?  How can you still belong to this church?  How can you trust that your priest isn’t an abuser?

I went to confession last Saturday – after the McCarrick scandal – but before the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report.  I so fortunate to walk into the confessional and see a retired priest I know well and love.  He just said “What’s up?”  And I told him that I was so sickened by what had happened in the church I felt like leaving the church.  He just said “me too.”  We talked for a while.  I made a good confession.  I received absolution.  And I left, resolved to do what he told me to do.

“Keep doing what you are doing because it is the right thing.  They will all answer for what they have done.”

I am sickened by what McCarrick was able to do.  I am sickened by the fact that he was promoted within the church when it was an open secret that he was an abuser.  He was promoted.  He was a cardinal!

The Pennsylvania report is beyond appalling.  I am sickened to read of the abuse of children, of course.  But I am horrified to read, in black and white, the complete lack of any kind of human or meaningful response on behalf of the church hierarchy.  They all just covered, lied, and obfuscated.  There was no care or concern for the victims or their families.  There was no apparent shock at what these priests were doing.  These priests were not an anomaly.  It was a culture.  And it appears to have gone all the way up through the church.

It would strain credulity that somehow what happened in Pennsylvania was confined to Pennsylvania.  Certainly it was, and may still be, happening in parishes, dioceses, and archdioceses throughout this country.

The dearth of meaningful response is not reassuring.  I expected to hear about this in homilies this week.  I have been to mass three times, and not one word.  I expected the good priests and holy people of social media to be expressing their shock and horror.

Instead I have heard vague and tepid requests for prayers for the church.  Oh really?  Prayers for the church?  Yes, I am praying for the church.  But I want more.

In my onion, Cardinal McCarrick should be in prison.  I want Cardinal Wuerl in prison.  I want the church to condemn what they have done.

I don’t want to see any more responses about being “saddened.”  I don’t want to hear any more euphemisms for rape, ritual child abuse, and cover-ups.

I am angry.

I will not stop being a Catholic though.  I will not stop going to Mass.  I won’t let the evil one’s victory to be complete.

full disclosure:  My late uncle is one of the priests named in the PA Grand Jury report.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Last Day of July

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The photo is from my Friday hike.  It’s been so hot and dry, as you can plainly see.  But the clouds moved in and we got over 2 inches of rain over a two day period.

I usually write my best friend who lives in England an e-mail every morning.  Lately she has been responding with one or two sentences that don’t say anything but “I’m so tired.  I am going to bed.”  Or “The dog is in the garden, I must go.”  She got very upset with me a week or so ago.  Although we hashed it out and I apologized for a thoughtless comment, and we agreed to let it go, it appears she hasn’t let it go.

The days of begging for someone’s friendship are gone.  She can come back to me, but I have had enough apologizing.  I can’t take it back.

I mentioned something that happened 30 years ago, just in passing, and she took that to mean that I have been harboring resentment for 30 years.  Which I hadn’t.  And am not.  I thought it was a funny moment from our past.  She was apparently devastated that I would bring up such a thing (which I thought was just a funny memory).  She asked why I hadn’t talked to her about it before.  Because it was nothing.

Oh, relationships are fraught with peril.  This one always has been.  And yet, all these years, 34 of them, we have called each other best friends.  Right at this moment, I know from experience, I just need to back off.  She has a lot going on.  She has health problems, and she has family problems.

Did I mention that she was the person who made the twelfth step phone call and visit that first day I called AA?  She was.  I believe there was not another soul on earth who could have reached me that day.  We have been fast friends ever since.  It was the only twelfth step work she ever did.   She has been drinking since maybe 1999.

So for today, I will love her from a distance.  I know who she is.  Her anger and absence no longer devastate me like they used to.

And maybe I could get back into the habit of blogging?

There is no waste in God’s economy.

Posted in Friends, History, Weather | 4 Comments

Thirty-Four Years

 

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Pope John Paul II Rose – recently added to my garden.  

By the Grace of God, it was 34 years ago today that I took my last drink of alcohol.

A couple of non-program people have asked me in the last couple of days “Have you really never ever had a drink since 1984?”  And the answer, amazingly enough, is “I truly have not had a single drop of alcohol since July 23, 1984.”  I count my sobriety date as July 24 because that is the day I got sober.  My last drink was July 23.

This morning I took a hike and for some reason the phrase “a lifetime battle with addiction” came to my mind.  I laughed.  There is no battle.  There is no fight.  I surrendered to the fact that I cannot safely drink and placed my trust in God to help me live as a sober woman.  This is not a negative.  There is not regret that I “can’t” drink.   I could I guess.  Who would want to?  Not me.  I didn’t give up a fun activity, I adopted a healthy, meaningful, and enjoyable way of living, only by the Grace of God.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the work.  I worked the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous extensively and repeatedly.   And then I helped other women to work the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous extensively and repeatedly.  I think that was completely necessary, but I don’t think that is what is responsible for my sobriety.  I credit a loving God with pulling me from the alcoholic trash heap of life and giving me a new life.

I did not always have good motives for staying sober in the early years.  Sometimes I just didn’t want anyone to be able to gloat if I got drunk.  Sometimes I thought about all the weight I lost when I quit drinking mass quantities of beer every day, and didn’t want to put it back on.  I really enjoyed wearing cute clothes and shoes and the attention I used to get.  Every day back then I was eternally grateful to not wake up with a hangover.  And every day I was equally grateful for knowing what I had done the night before.   I really believe God will work with any kind of motivation we may have, regardless of how inadequate it might be.

Shit got real when I was between 4 and 5 years sober.  It was hard.  Sobriety took on a different meaning and importance to me.  It become so much more serious.  I was so fortunate to find good sponsorship at that time and redoubled my efforts at the steps.  They’re not kidding when they say more will be revealed.  Once again, God had my back.

There are too many years to go through, but oh my God, I am so grateful for them!  What a life I have had.  It doesn’t even make sense that I could have gotten from there to here.

My 18 year old granddaughter is suddenly back in my life.  We have had many long conversations.  She is so shocked to get to know me as an adult, not just nana who bakes awesome pies and knits great gifts. She didn’t even know I am an alcoholic!  Amazing.   And how amazing it is to be a good influence in her life.

Things are good.  Not always pleasant, but good.

I am not enjoying working at all.  But I am enjoying spending money on ridiculous things like going to Hawaii, which was so very wonderful.  I have probably been careless with the money I have made, which is not what the plan was.  My temporary assignment will be over by the 2nd week in September.  I cannot wait to be retired again.  They do want to hire me on a permanent part-time basis, and if I can do that I will.

I miss blogging.  I miss the old days of blogging.  We had such fun.

I miss the old days of AA.  I miss my old friends who are mostly all dead now.

God has been so very good to me.

Thank you!

 

Posted in Aging, Family, Garden, Gratitude, History, Roses, Sobriety | 12 Comments

Life’s Highs and Lows

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This was my beautiful little Gigi.  She died on March 3.  I was devastated.  Which I thought was weird because I was considering giving her back to the shelter because her aggression never went away.  She had attacked me (involving blood dripping down my leg!) one week before her demise.

On Friday, March 2, I sat down to eat lunch at 2 p.m., and let her go outside.  She would normally stay on my front porch, or my back yard.  She headed out into the back yard (seen in photo).  At 2:45 p.m., I heard howling at my front door.  She was laying here, with her mouth agape, breathing very quickly and shallowly.  She tried to come in the house, but her back legs were paralyzed.  I called the vet whose first thought was that she had been hit by a car.  But she hadn’t.  I loaded her into the cat carrier for another one of those final rides.

The vet first tried to get her breathing under control.  #1 is always airway.  He kept her overnight, but told me he may be calling me anytime…. because he did not expect her to live.  He thought, after seeing her, that she had been poisoned.

The next morning, she was breathing, but still paralyzed.  I went in to the animal hospital to see her and she was completely miserable.  I could not make her endure this suffering.  The veterinarian agreed with me.  Thank God he is an AA friend and was so kind to me.  Hugs are very good when going through this agonizing decision.

I stayed with her until her last breath.  It was horrifying.  Absolutely the worst thing I have ever seen an animal go through.

I opted to not get her blood tested because I didn’t want her to have one more ounce of misery in this life.  Now I wish I had.  I really wish I knew what happened to her in 45 minutes on a sunny Friday afternoon that turned her from a healthy kitty to a dying cat.  But I don’t know.  I thought I could let go of the idea that someone poisoned her, but I haven’t.

Devastation.  I was utterly devastated.  And I wondered why.  But I think I figured it out.  I loved that cat.  I wouldn’t have kept her otherwise because she was a complete menace!    The other part was how shocking her death was, really awful.

There is a lot going on in my life.  A lot of family stuff.

There is also a whole lot of joy.  A whole lot of peace.   I am meeting with a spiritual director and she has me doing meditation every single day.  And then writing about it.  It is amazing to meditate on scripture and then write about it.  And then paint about it.  Yes, my spiritual journal is a watercolor book!

I ran into my old psychiatrist at work yesterday and I was so happy to tell him that I am feeling very very good.  He was happy to hear it.  He saved my life 5 years ago when I was going through the worst depression!  He thinks my saying he saved my life is hyperbole.  Whatever, I know what I know.  And I know he saved my life.

And I am getting ready for a trip to Hawaii!!!!!!!  I am beyond excited!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cat, Gratitude, Hawaii, Joy, Peace, Prayer, Work | 3 Comments