Goals: In lieu of a resolution

Having attainable goals is an important element to our lives. Recently, I realized that I may have spent too much time in “mental recovery” just coasting happily. I certainly needed that time for healing. The blog posts I’ve written over the last year are a product of that healing. Now it’s time to look forward with vision. So, instead of one resolution, I’m setting one goal for each of the essential elements of life.

What are the essential life elements? My version includes: education, relationships, health, finance, career, spirituality, hobbies, and balance. At different parts of our lives, we are strong in some of these areas and weak in others. By setting a goal for each, I hope to improve myself overall in 2020.

And while I won’t bore you with all my goals, I’ll share a couple for keeping myself honest and giving ideas to any of you readers😊

In the area of health, I am committing to the type of exercise 4+ times per week that will strengthen my core. Since I’ve been having lower back issues, I’m hoping the core strengthening will also help my back to stay in place!

For finance, there are so many possibilities. But this year, I’ve decided to declare a war on debt. I’ve set a limit on my total outstanding debt, and I won’t increase that beyond the limit I set. If I reduce my debt, I can either be thrilled with the reduction, or I can use the available amount to my limit to acquire something else. The choice is mine, and it helps me keep the condition of the economy front of mind.

Theses are far from exciting. I know. If you are still even reading, contain your yawning 🥱.

The start of a new year is a great time to assess where you stand I. All the aspects of life. Sometimes I rate myself on a scale of 1-5 on each and determine where I’m the lowest. That helps me focus my efforts. Self education is where I might push the hardest for a while. It’s time to learn more about topics outside of self care and healing. I gave that to 2019. It served me well. Time to redirect!


So yesterday I was feeling a little blue, nothing major. Cause undetermined but I’m near onset of menopause so anything is possible.

Then, my boyfriend was down. He just goes silent, but it makes me sad and wondering if it’s me contributing to it. So I leave him to his own thoughts.

Icing on the cake is when my daughter is on the couch sobbing. Nothing hurts worse than when your kids are hurting and you can’t fix it. Even worse for control freaks like me who want to work it all out.

Of course all this makes me worse and I go to bed sobbing and praying for one day of total happiness for myself, family, and friends all on the same day. Utopia for a day.

This morning I wake still thinking how nice a day of Utopia would be. Then it hits me.

Utopia is heaven and heaven is Utopia…. and it’s forever.

I’m not ready for it yet but it was God’s reminder of the blessings that await.

Did Ally McBeal go to Al Anon?

I’ve been down this road walking the line that is painted by pride.  I’ve made mistakes in my life that I just can’t hide.  I believe I am ready for what love has to bring.  I got myself together and now I am ready to sing.

I’ve been searching my soul tonight.  I know there’s so much more to life.  Now I know I can shine the light to find my way back home.

One by one the chains around me unwind.  Every day now I feel that I can leave those years behind.  oh I’ve been thinking of you for a long time.  There’s a side of my life where I’ve been blind….”    (Searchin My Soul by Vonda Shepard).

I think it’s been twenty years since I watched the Ally McBeal show on TV.  I have hardly ever watched much TV, but I watched that.  It wasn’t until recently that I was reminded of the show, and so I watched an episode or two.  And I cried.  Not because the show was sad.  She was me and I was her.  She was smart but insecure.  She was successful yet uncomfortable in her skin.  No wonder I watched the show.

Too bad we couldn’t bring back the cast and do a 2019 version of the show.  I could tell them what Ally would be like now.  Ally could go to Al Anon meetings.  Ally could teach her kid how to break the cycle of the family disease.  Ally could heal.  Ally could rest easy.



Wrapped up in a new lifestyle

I decided I had to end my marriage. That was a decision that took heartache, tears, and years to come to.

Prior posts on this blog share many of the reasons. Simply put, it boiled down to being married to an isolated alcoholic who had been emotionally neglectful and abusive. Our relationship had completely deteriorated. I emotionally detached, and I felt the need to make a better life for myself and my daughter.

She and I have been on our own for 16 months. What does our new lifestyle look like?

We have less stress and anxiety, which increases happiness. We have more chores to split, which is tiring. We have made new friends, ones that love us as we are. We have less contact with his family, which is sad. We have turned some good friends into “family.”

I have had the time to explore more of myself and my shortcomings and find ways to heal. Healing is good for the soul.

I’ve been able to start dating. It’s nice to be complimented….that was foreign. It’s nice to have stimulating conversation…that had disappeared. It’s refreshing to have someone put my needs ahead of his….wow. And it’s nice to hear “I’m sorry” if something goes wrong….another thing I’m not used to. It’s refreshing to date someone who inspires me.

I do less with some groups and clubs than I used to. I can’t really explain why, other than that I spent a lot of time doing things simply to be outside of the house when I was married. Now I enjoy being home. Also, I don’t want to be asked questions. It’s easier to avoid some of the curious, nosy, gossipy people.

The people who understand my decision and support me have been a blessing. They may not know it, but their hugs, smiles, or texts sometimes turn an awful day into a good one.

Some people don’t understand my decision. While I certainly don’t need approval, it hurts my core that some of my closest family members are unintentionally obvious about their lack of approval. One particular person recently said about me that “I am so wrapped up in my new lifestyle that I don’t have time for anything that isn’t a part of it.” I have no idea what that means, but it certainly sounds like it comes from anger, resent, or hurt. I don’t know why.

My new lifestyle allows me more freedom. I’m able to open my doors to friends and family to visit anytime they want, or even use my house as a retreat. I’m able to slow down my pace and appreciate my blessings. God’s artwork is appreciated and his presence in my life is invigorated. And, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to support other people who have been in similar circumstances.

I like my new “lifestyle.” Not sure what’s bad about it.

Material detachment came next for me

When I was married to an alcoholic, I did lots of things to avoid reality. I focused a lot on helping others. I stayed busy….really, really busy. And I was a bit of a control freak. I couldn’t control his drinking but I tried to perfect everything else. (I didn’t realize any of this until after divorce.)

Before I started educating myself on the disease, and before I had entered an al-anon room, I had detached emotionally. One of my first meetings, I remember a discussion meeting about detachment and thinking how different I was. In reality, I was wondering if I could find a way to “re-attach” if he stayed sober. Most others were trying to detach to care for themselves. I got it. I understood it. I had done it really well.

My ex did not stay sober, so I never had to test out whether I could re-attach my emotions. We are both better off apart.

When we were married, he got moments of happiness through purchasing things. I remember how giddy he was on “new bike days.” He even suggested that the days he got new motorcycles were some of the best days of his life. 😳. Umm…wedding day? Birth of our child? Hello?!?!?

Again, I wasn’t able to see it for what it was until removing myself from the situation. He really was so numb emotionally that it took “things” to excite him. And this still continues with him to this day. He trades in titled Motorsport vehicles when they still smell new just to get another happy high.

When we separated, I asked my daughter if she wanted to continue living in our same house, or if she wanted to simplify and make memories instead. I’m so relieved she chose the memories.

I bought a small house that was 1/3 the value of what we left behind. I sold my gas guzzling 7 passenger high class SUV and bought a used car. The list of simplification goes on and on.

When I lost my job unexpectedly, I felt so blessed to have simplified. I didn’t have any of the financial worry or burden that I would have had otherwise. I was SO grateful.

Then two weeks ago at church during the homily, the priest encouraged “material detachment” as a description for the situation Jesus praised a disciple for in a bible verse. I was so taken back by hearing detachment separately from alcoholism that I couldn’t help but engage. Then,to hear him describe finding happiness by removing focus from material “things” gave me complete reassurance that God had walked me through so many decisions over the last couple years.

First emotional detachment and then material detachment.

I am so blessed. I am grateful.

A year from hell or the best ever?

  • June 2017 – My father dies.
  • July 2017 – My husband goes into rehab.
  • January 2018 –  My husband is obviously drinking again.
  • January 2018 – I tell him I want a dissolution.
  • July 2018 – He moves out and we get dissolution.
  • August 2018 – I sell my house and buy a smaller one in different school district.
  • September 2018 -my daughter starts a new school her freshman year.
  • October 2018 – I lose my job.

That’s a lot of “stuff” in a short period of time.

So many of my blog posts on this site reflect on incidents that occurred in and around that crazy year of my life.I had every excuse to feel sorry for myself and go into a hole. I didn’t, but that is no credit to me. God blessed me. Every negative incident gave me a new perspective and allowed me to relook at my priorities. I have reshaped and rebuilt. A former colleague respectfully suggested that it might be a mid life crisis. Lol. Easy to be seen as that by outside eyes.

By finding my weaknesses and admitting them, I have been able to help others more. Isn’t that what life on this planet is about anyway?

I like to help people. I think it’s my personal addiction. Most of the time, I find myself helping people problem solve or use their resources wisely. Offering knowledge and support to people who are willing to accept help has been fruitful. I particularly like to help people find happiness. Give me a grumpy person, and I’m pleased as punch to befriend them:-). As a matter of fact, a grumpy guy that had to have been sent my way by God, is a whole lot less grumpy and I’m pleased to be dating him. Thank goodness that helping others is one of the few things God calls on us to do.

In my life before “the crazy year,” my own house was REALLY far from being in order. From the outside, people probably could have perceived it as “perfect.” But they didn’t know reality.

Since the “crazy year” ended, I’ve been able to put most of my house in order (there is still room for improvement.). However, each step I get closer to real order, gives me more opportunity to do God’s work, helping others.

For that, I am TRULY BLESSED

I really hope that calling is tied to the emotional and/or spiritual needs of people, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.


A moral inventory of yourself. Wow.

The twelve steps in both the AA and the Al-Anon program have a 4th step that reads “take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

For people unaware of the principles of AA and Al-Anon, I can assure you that the program is well done and could legitimately help many people, even those not impacted by alcoholism.  So, I start this blog because of how impressed I am by step 4 as I reflect on it myself tonight.  This morning, I read today’s reflection from “One Day at A Time in Al-Anon.” and I’ve been thinking of it all day.

The reflection suggested that most of us use self -justification when we uncover a flaw, suggesting that it was  reaction to someone else’s wrongdoing.  It goes as far as to say that even psychiatrists can’t self analyze because of that block.  But it left me challenged with “personal honesty and humility can achieve what superior knowledge often cannot.”

And so, I begin to try step 4 again.  I can honestly say that my first time through it, I checked generic boxes.  I thought I really knew my strengths and weaknesses, so I just made that list.  After all,  I was  admitting that I was a control freak, that I often started tasks before completing other ones, that I was plagued with anxiety, etc. etc..  Wasn’t that enough?

No.  No, it was not enough.  You see, there is so much more to it than that.  For example, are we willing to ask others what they believe our shortcomings are without making excuses, or challenging their thoughts?  Can we listen to them?  Can we process what they say without trying to self-justify?

For example…..my mom told me that I was very critical and negative.  My instant response was…..how dare she…..I mean she is as negative as anyone I know…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree….doesn’t she realize that I have to talk to someone about ugly things…..if it can’t be your mom, who can it be???   Without realizing it, I went right to self-justification.  I didn’t accept it as a shortcoming.

It is a shortcoming.  While I am cautious to never appear anything but upbeat and positive to some, I had failed to realize that I let my guard down way too much around the people I love the most.  I did not put on a happy face for them or present the glass half full.  Why do we give the worst of ourselves to the most important people?  And if I am  as emotionally intelligent as tests show, and I fall guilty to self-justification, then I believe that nearly all of us do.

That being said…..  Can we stop self-justifying?  It’s not easy, but being aware of it as the typical response is important to slowing it down.  For example……if someone tells me that I appear agitated, I hope that I can accept that instead of thinking of all the things around me that cause the agitation.

So, back to step four……once we have the list of shortcomings, we have to be willing to work on each of them one at a time, trying to turn them into attributes.  For example…me being a control freak.  It’s true.

In parenting my only child, I’m certain that I spent way too much time trying to control the perception that others had of her and trying to make her something that she was not.  My daughter is clearly not me, so I should not have encouraged her to do the things that I thought were good for her.  I should have spent much more time asking her for her goals and ideas.  Fortunately, by changing schools in the divorce, she was given a “do-over” and so was I.  She was allowed to “blend in” instead of “stand out” as was the case for me and my expectations.  Thank goodness I realized it before it was too late.  Thank goodness that God and Al-Anon opened my eyes to honesty and the time to deep dive into my shortcomings.  While I’m still a control freak, I’ve realized that there are some things that I must not focus on or else they cause other people unnecessary stress.

Step 4 in the programs can take a long time to accomplish.  If done right, it isn’t a checklist.  It’s a lifestyle change. If alcoholics and al-anon members successfully complete this step as designed, focusing on honesty and humility, I’m certain that they can teach the world a thing or two and that they are headed in the right direction.  I hope to get there someday soon.






Who is an alcoholic?

There are high functioning alcoholics all around us.  They continue daily work, in even the highest types of professional positions, while managing an addiction.  Their ability to appear “normal” allows their condition to be overlooked for a long time, or even through their own death.

A former employee of mine saw patients everyday in a medical office.  The patients loved her, and requested her for care.  She treated their chronic conditions and acute illnesses with care.  Her clinical notes were thorough, accurate, and professional.   Employees around her were glad she joined the team.

My ex-husband managed people successfully at work.  He never drank during work hours or when our child had school functions.  He didn’t cross paths with the law or get into any altercations.

A friend of mine traveled all over the world for work and continued to get large monetary increases in salary.  She had a husband and two kids and appeared quite successful.

All three of these people are alcoholics.  What do they have in common other than being “hidden”  from suspecting eyes and being professionally successful?

They, and others, use alcohol as a coping mechanism.  In many cases, it is trying to cope with a feeling of “less than.”  Social anxiety, depression, stress, and generalized anxiety are what drove many to alcohol use and eventually to alcoholism.

The people closest to them, typically those that live with them, know the reality.  They worry about them, and worry, and get angry, and get sad, and get frustrated, and get sad, and (repeat, repeat).  It’s a family disease because families walk on egg shell;, they take emotional rollercoaster rides; they get treated to many periods of silence; they have many things that they have said or done forgotten, because the alcoholic was drunk originally.  The list goes on and on.

Typically, they (the alcoholics) become more and more selfish and more and more isolated over time.  Their actions and decisions seem immature emotionally and while they are ashamed of their condition, they build a wall of protection, or even a bubble as my ex did.  And they drink more, and perhaps hide it more.

How does it stop or does it ever?

Nobody can make another person stop drinking.  NOBODY.  I repeat….nobody.  It doesn’t matter if the alcoholic knows that he/she is hurting the family.  It’s not that they want to, but  they can rationalize it away.  Ultimatums do not work….at least not long term.  Some may cave temporarily, but it never works in the end.

The successful and sober alcoholic is one that made the decision for himself/herself that it was time.  Many have said that it takes hitting an absolute rock bottom place to make that decision.  In my ex-husband’s case, he wasn’t ready.  It was/is a parasite within him that has not been ready to leave.  While he tried rehab, he didn’t follow instructions from the moment he departed the building.

In my former employee’s case, she was caught with a lot of empty alcohol bottles in her office at work, and she seemed relieved to no longer have to keep up the façade.  She entered detox/rehab right away.  She fell off once and is clean again for six months.  An incident forced the change, and only she knows if she is truly ready to be done.

My friend’s body started failing her.  It was scary.  She was fine mentally, but her body started losing functionality.  She made the decision to live, to fix her body by giving up drinking.  She is now three years sober.

Sadly, many alcoholics drink their entire lives.  They often die younger than others with heart attacks or sudden deaths, or even the obvious one…cirrhosis.

They walk among us.  While the word alcoholic carries a stereotype look (or even smell), it is not the case with many.  They are our friends, neighbors, doctors, teachers, and even clergy.  There are no socioeconomic boundaries.  The parasite can live in anyone who tried alcohol as a coping mechanism and then continued to use it until it overtook their power to quit.



Music is the language of love….and pain, and anger, and joy, and memories

I was so unaware at the time of how blessed I would be when B started therapeutic riding with me.  I’ve given riding lessons for twenty years, but had really never dealt with the “handicapped” because I didn’t have equipment or training.  B’s mom didn’t care and asked that I work with her anyways about 6 years ago.  And so began a mutual relationship of learning, growth, emotions and MUSIC.  B is relatively non-verbal.  She has been diagnosed with various ailments including autism.  While I could write a book about our experience, my point now is to emphasize the power of music.  For years, I knew she loved music.  Early on, I realized that her amazing brain held the titles and tract numbers of hundreds of songs from multiple artists.  She rarely spoke, but frequently we would sing song verses together.  She can’t share feelings, but her body sometimes shows her emotions.  It was not until last year that I realized that she was using songs to communicate.  We all do really, but for her, it is one of the only ways she can.  When she is feeling a certain way, she goes through the vast jukebox in her mind to a song that represents how she is feeling.  If you are patient enough, she’ll find a way to tell you what that song is.  If you listen to it, you unlock her mind.

All of us have songs that stimulate feelings in us.  I think they fall into two categories.  Ones associated with memories, and ones associated with feelings.  I’m sure we have all experienced the memories music capture.  Like when you are shopping in a department store and there is music in the background and a song that you haven’t heard for years comes on and you are instantly: in a middle school cafeteria for a school dance, or on the beach at a Spring Break party, or praying in church with your grandparents.  Those memories pop up as the songs tied to times that were meaningful, and hopefully allow us to reflect on moments that built us.

The other category, songs associated with emotions, are generally found when the words of a song speak to a strong set of emotions that we are grappling with.  We typically listen to the song over and over again.  Sometimes we share it with people to help them understand our thoughts.

When my ex and I were still married but struggling, I know he shared a song with me that was deeper than I was able to process.  I’ve never been a great literary or lyrical analyst.  It made me sad that I couldn’t understand.  I remember I shared a song with him by Harry Styles, Two Ghosts.  The song still makes me sad.  “we’re not who we used to be, we’re just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me.”  There was not analysis needed.  It was very clear what the song meant.  It was my period of sadness that our marriage had come to that point.

But with divorce comes a full range of emotions, and sadness ended up being replaced by anger.  I was so angry that alcoholism had captured him and wouldn’t let go.  I was so angry that he couldn’t overcome it.  I was angry that the “life plan” completely changed.  And while the song has meaning for many people with various challenges, Fight Song by Rachel Platton became my outlet.  I can’t tell you how many times I put all the windows down in my car and took off driving with that song playing as loud as possible.

“This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m alright song”

That song helped me stay focused on a very rough and challenging course of action.  Thanks Rachel.  And it didn’t take me long to realize that the album with Fight Song  actually had several other songs that related to things happening in my life, including Stand By Me and Better Place.

What are your memory songs?  What are your emotion songs?  The blessing for me is that I’ve passed thought the cycle of emotions with divorce, so my current emotion songs are generally happy.  Happy music, and peaceful music promotes serenity.  If you haven’t already tried that, give it a go.

My riding student B, who nearly always listens to country music, introduced me to a new world recently.  We had just finished a GREAT lesson together, and she started saying Bear and Blue House.  I don’t have any young kids these days, so it took me time and patience to realize that she was talking about a kids show called “Bear in the Big Blue House.”  After I figured that out, she said “Goodbye” and “Song”….well here it is…here are her thoughts, captured in the jukebox in her mind:

Hey this was really fun

Hope you liked it too

Seems like we’ve just begun when suddenly we’re through

Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye

Cause now its time to go

But hey, I say, well that’s ok

Cause we will see you very soon I know








Am I healed?

When I first started this blog, it seemed as though I had an infinite supply of topics, happenings, stories, etc., related to my marriage and divorce with an alcoholic.

Topics would pop into my head, and I would sit down and quickly produce a decent post.  Those urges come to me much less frequently now..  At first I blamed it on my mood.  Then I blamed it on the weather…then on being too busy.  Then I read a morning reflection, like I do every morning, and God spoke through it to me.  “You’re healed.”

Could it be that my words came easily through the pain?  Could it be that the lessons I learned needed to be shared while I was still learning them?  Did I help anybody else, or did I just help myself?  Perhaps this blog was just what I needed to do to heal me, and now…… I’m good:-).  Should I stop writing?

I know my one post (about parking in the garage) had weighed heavily on my mind for several weeks before I wrote it.  Once I did, a burden lifted.

I definitely needed to get stuff off of my chest (in a confidential way).  In my mind, I figured there would be other people out there in the “reading universe” that could benefit from my experiences, even if it was just to know that they weren’t the only ones going through something similar.  But I wasn’t sure.

Then, I posted a quote on my Instagram that made a difference.  It simply said:

When she brings it up once, you say she’s complaining.  When she brings it up twice, you say she is nagging.  When she cries about it, you say she is being too sensitive.   My good friend, let me ask you this:  when she leaves you, what will she be then?

It got 10 times more likes than what my IG posts usually get.  So, apparently, I hit the magic button of something that appealed to others.  So maybe there is a reason to write.

A reflection I read this morning suggested to readers that we can’t look for results in good deeds that we do.  Instead, we should just keep doing good deeds knowing that it’s the right thing to do.

For now, I will write when the mood strikes, not for myself, since I’m “healed” LOL, but for potentially one person who may catch a moment of peace, love, or support from my words.  And, I’m certain I will continue to heal:-)