I changed the title of this blog to celebrate the new direction of my life. I spent the last 47 days relearning how to live alcohol free. I even changed my hair color to blond to match my new outlook. These before and after pictures taken two years apart illustrate the new me.
It is very satisfying to see the progress I’ve made in these pictures of me taken two years apart. My posture is different now. I look more confident and happier than in my slouching posture of 2018, when even though I’m smiling the sadness shows through. The before picture came up in my Facebook memories from two year ago—which is a punch to my gut because my then boyfriend took the photo during a hike on the Blackcreek Greenway. He was very important to me for several years and is no longer in my life.
My life is so much simpler now than it was in 2018. I have no responsibilities for anyone but myself. Although I still have grief, I have little stress in my life. That may seem strange in the middle of a pandemic, but it is true in comparison to 2018. Then I was working twelve-hour days, in a broken relationship, and the sole support both financially and emotionally for my grandson, who died a little over a year ago.
My friends have made a huge impact in my life. I go to at least one support meeting a day—the fellowship has increased my wellbeing and happiness. I’ve also worked hard on my health. I’m buying clean food and cooking several times a week. I indulge myself in wonderful healthy meals that I make just for me. My latest concoction is beans, chilies and chicken in the crock pot. I make enough for several meals and freeze small portions so I can have a variety in my freezer to pull out and reheat. I also have frozen yogurt and the occasional pizza, my favorite food.
Exercise has literally saved my life. I swim three days a week, work out three days a week, and walk Dutch several times a day. I replaced Dutch’s 4:30 pm walk with a daily trip to the dog park. I have met new friends who love dogs as much as I do—this has been a great social outlet for me. Instead of having a glass of wine after work, I get outside, and Dutch gets to go to his favorite place. He runs and wrestles with the young pups. The other dog owners think Dutch is much younger than six, the age the vet placed him based on his teeth.
It hasn’t been easy to get back to healthy living. I experienced some depression one weekend at the end of July that stalled my progress. It started with a Colposcopy, a cervical biopsy to screen out cancer. (Fortunately, I am cancer free). That biopsy sent me back into full grief. Again! I had a scare like that several years ago when my late husband Harry was still alive. Memories of him comforting me while I lay in bed in pain after the biopsy sent me back into fresh grief. When some little thing reminds me of my daughter, my late husband, or my grandson, it is like they died today. I am right back there sobbing and freshly wounded.
Thoughts of Harry comforting me created an intense feeling of loss that overwhelmed me. So I cried and ordered wine on Instacart, lay in bed and drank through my tears — all weekend. I thought, I can’t go on living like this. I simply don’t want to be here without them. I didn’t want to die but I had no desire to get out of bed. No desire to eat or even walk Dutch. I used two boxes of tissues and still the tears came, while ambition to even shower stayed tamped down.
Dutch jumped up on the bed, put his head under my hand and pawed me. I felt guilty for not walking him and making him live this boring life with me. Somehow Dutch got through to me. I had two choices. I could keep doing what I was doing and let grief keep me from living or I could find help. I went that morning to an alcohol support meeting. That was 47 days ago.
It has been hard work to change my life. But the pictures show the difference. Two years ago, I was emotionally drained. I had driven my grandson Erik from New York to his dorm in Lima, OH. I was his sole support for college — both financially and emotionally — and his go to person for all things academic.
Erik set up his put together his gaming desk in his dorm room the first night he was there. He was determined to put it together himself with no help from me or any of his roommates. He also refused to read the directions and so spent several hours on it. But he did it and was so proud. That was a wonderful day in his life. He was so full of hope and pride and so was I. You may notice his mom’s obituary hanging on the wall. He also kept her My Little Ponies from her memorial service.
We went out to dinner with several of Erik’s roommate’s parents. He told them how he and his dad played tricks on each other. One night he put firecrackers under the toilet. When his dad sat on it they exploded and he jumped into the bathtub. Looking around at the parents at the table I read shock in their eyes. Who was this kid that would be living with theirs for the next year?
So in able to support Erik in school, I was working hard to keep the high stress job I had a Questar Assessment. I had also just moved into a townhouse after a delayed closing that almost didn’t happen. Packing my late husband’s books before the move stirred up fresh grief for him. And I was in a broken relationship with a man I had been seeing since 2016. (I’ll call him A, since he was my addiction). He did not want a commitment, but I kept seeing him anyway hoping he would change his mind. I felt inadequate and alone even when I was with him. It was not a good feeling and it shows in the photo from 2018.
The stress overwhelmed me. I stopped taking care of myself. I replaced my regular workout with drinking, ate comfort food and gained weight, which made me even more insecure. But unlike the me of the present, I dwelled in the depression and grief and used alcohol to numb the pain. I did not find support and help.
Below are my journal entries leading up to the October 7, 2018. It smacks of desperation that I don’t have today. Even the pandemic does not cause me this much distress.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
I can’t shake the eating at night thing. Stress and loneliness. Not going to even try to get on a healthy diet until after I move. Too hard.
Doing all this move alone! And getting Erik to college. And heavy workload. Now seller may not fix things! But I move on Tuesday.
I got up at 4 am the last couple of days. Did my workouts then worked 12-hours. Today I slept in until 5:30. I’m not sure how I’m holding it together with this move next Tuesday, then Apple Valley, Minnesota, for my company wide yearly meeting on August 7th and Erik’s trip for orientation on the 16th.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
I am so stressed I can barely function. There is the batch 1 triage (reviewing teacher written questions) deadline Wednesday that is impossible because these endless emails from the realtor with docs to sign are keeping me from working. I have to look at the inspection report to decide which repairs I should ask the seller to make. I need to talk to the realtor. But I don’t have time. Less than a week until I move.
It’s too much! There are empty boxes all over that I need to pack. I found out last night that this house I’m selling won’t close until Thursday or Friday. So I can’t move before I leave for my company wide meeting in Apple Valley. When will I move?
As I’m sorting books and CDs to keep or give away, memories of Lynn and Harry keep flooding me. I can’t fight the tears. Harry and I watched Random Harvest every Thanksgiving. He cried every time, the big sap. I want what I had with Harry. I miss my daughter. Damn it. This is too hard! I just want to crawl in a hole, watch movies and drink! My friend C’s coming at 3 so that will help a lot!
Sunday, July 29, 2018
I’m not doing well, grieving for Harry all over again with this move. I am edgy, sad, jittery and can’t focus on anything. Everything irritates me. An overall sense of sadness is like a shadow surrounding me. Yesterday the president of the homeowner’s association rang the doorbell around 1 pm to welcome me. I’d had a couple of glasses of wine and I’m sure did not make a good impression.
I don’t want the responsibility of a house. I wanted to sell my house and rent an apartment, but I bought this house instead because of A. He wanted me to buy a house instead of living in an apartment. I wanted a place where he would come see me, so I bought a house. What I really wanted was for us to move in together and start a new life. I hate this!
I got my eyelashes done at 10 this morning in preparation for my work trip. Once home, I cried while packing Harry’s books and rubbed my eyes with a tissue–basically rubbed off the new eyelashes. A couple fell right off in the tissue! Damn it.
I keep forgetting basic things like where my phone is when I’m talking on it.
I’m alone and doing this move alone. I can’t wait until the move is done, I’m back from Apple Valley and taking Erik to Ohio. Just get through one thing at a time!
Sunday, August 12, 2018
It was a hard trip in Apple Valley because the remote people didn’t have cars and the meetings were both at Questar, the zoo, and the hotels. We had to find rides. I squeezed into the back of a van one of the managers had rented to and from the big meeting in the zoo, to Questar, then to the Grandstay hotel. It was exhausting. A said I looked tired yesterday. I imagine I aged years.
I can’t make myself do item triage (reviewing questions written by teachers). I need to work but my concentration is nonexistent. I am tired of endless unpacking and Questar workload. My friend C is coming at 1pm. I am helpless to get the house in order for her visit. Boxes are everywhere. I did unpack my suitcase and part of a kitchen box at least and I put away laundry.
I spent the morning setting up autopay for the utilities. I’m resentful because I do not want to be a homeowner. It’s too scary and expensive when things break. I’m sure these feelings are partially why I broke up with A again yesterday. He got here late for our hike–after 10 am. It made me mad. I am tired of being not important and told him how I felt. He says he can’t commit to being exclusive but he’s not seeing anyone.
I really need some time off to rest but I’m not going to get it. I’m taking Erik to North Western Ohio for college on Thursday. I will try to enjoy that and be happy for him and get him settled in. God give me the strength. Please put your hand on me and help me be a good example and support for Erik.
Monday, August 20, 2018
Just got back from Lima, Ohio, last night. I flew to Syracuse at 6:30 Thursday morning, picked Erik up in Homer, New York, loaded the car and drove to Lima from Syracuse, an 8-hour drive. We got there after 11 pm. I got back here a little before 7 pm last night. I’m in shell shock from the trip.
We set up Erik’s dorm room. Got his key to the dorm room from administration. Brought his stuff into the room. Went to Spectrum. Bought him a bike. Went to Walmart multiple times. Bought his books, got his hair cut, put his chair together. Met his roommates and parents. Went to dinner Sat with two of his roommates and parents.
I did stupid things yesterday. I dropped my glasses at the airport. Looked all over, in the bathroom stall, back at the restaurant, and then found them under the chair I sat in at the gate. Then I thought I left them in the Uber after searching all over the house. My glasses were on the dresser.
I felt so alone when I got to the airport and on the way home. I am alone but I did all this by myself! I am strong. Drove Erik to Lima, moved, handling the work, I hope. Deadline Monday for all triage.
I am very concerned about money and getting Erik through school. Maybe I should ask my sisters and Mom for financial help.