For the past week, I've been reflecting on 2012, as well as various programs for recovery. In rehab, the groups were based on cognitive therapy; AA, as everyone knows, depends on the "Higher Power/spiritual" concept. I still attend an out-patient cognitive therapy group twice a week, as well as seeing a therapist (again, cognitive therapy).
After careful consideration, I've decided that AA is not working for me. Basically, the spiritual/religious overtones (greater here in the South) are impossible for me to accept. It's similar to my reaction at local church attendance and the Christian religion in general. I will say I'm glad the AA program works for so many; and I did like the fellowship, and some of the individuals at the meetings. However, instead of focusing on my recovery, I found myself again rebelling against the spiritual methods.
At any rate, I do hope next year is a better year for me. And since I plan to never drink again, I think 2013 will be an improvement. I do have a few plans, but I don't really make New Year's resolutions. Except one: I am going to write more, even if just here at my blog.
I don't have any plans for New Year's Eve; lately I fall asleep by 10:00 and get the best night's sleep I've had in ages. I suppose that is one of the benefits of being off the booze. Or maybe it's one of the two medications I take for depression/pain? All I know is I love getting enough rest.
Of course, every day possible, I take the dogs on long walks. Today was frigid and blustery, but I took them anyway. As for volunteering at the local nursing home, I may still resume that. I've taken a short break over the Holidays.
Now I'm going to post the remainder of my rehab journal entries:
I feel much better today, emotionally. Finally got some sleep last night, though I woke too early again. My pain was less too, until I sat in the uncomfortable chairs here...back hurts. Meds should help that, though my allergies are awful.
Still, I'm feeling much improved. Maybe all the booze after-effect has finally gotten out of my system? Or the anti-depression drug is working. I'm considering AA meetings & continuing with my counselor when I get home.
The patients here have come into focus more now.
Dora, the 94-year-old, said she loves animals, used to work at an animal shelter. Said she spent thousands on rescuing dogs from being put down. But in her early years, she left this area and moved to Washington D.C. as a telephone operator. Met her late husband there; they had one son, who died in a car accident at age 29. She has only one remaining relative, a niece that doesn't live nearby.
Another lady who is 75 had been living with her son/daughter-in-law whom she dislikes. Called daughter-in-law "Hitler." Her one son, according to her, was the biggest disappointment of her life. He was an alcoholic most of his life, married 6 times, a child with each wife. Then he got religion (the crazy kind!) and though she was living with them, she paid most of the bills. She said he was constantly trying to "save" her, telling her she was going to Hell if she didn't get saved. At last, she said she'd had enough; and signed herself into the rehab/clearinghouse to hopefully be sent to a nursing home after evaluation. She lost her husband at the same age I did (he was 58, she was 54); then she worked in nursing homes for years afterward. She's a natural-born story-teller, and can tell outrageous, hilarious tales about life in nursing homes!
Again, a meal loaded with sugar & fats! I swear, I am going to be fat & diabetic before I leave here...unless I go home soon. Although I did lose a pound last week, I think that was because I took off my shoes. Anyway, not as concerned with weight as health and the unhealthy menu THREE times a day, with THREE additional snacks!
Ruth, the fragile, sweet little lady, was at my table today. She's been having a headache for two days & after lunch, as we talked, the nurse took our B.P.--Ruth's heart-rate was too high. They had her lie down; hope she'll be okay.
I'm stuffed, going to lie down, rest my back & read. I've read two books since I've been here, on the third one now.
Oct. 22, Monday
Weekends are definitely more fun here; the staff are a bit more relaxed & easy with us. Especially 2nd shift. This, I think, is a good thing since usually the days are regimented with rules, etc.
Ruth was taken to the hospital this morning; her heart rate has fluctuated wildly in the past days, as well as her having a headache. She was upset she had to leave, and I didn't even get to say goodbye because I didn't want to upset her more. Still, she really needed the medical assistance, and was unable to sit through the two group therapy sessions lately. Hope to hear how she's doing later.
I'm still thinking of volunteering at a local nursing home when I get home. At least visit some of the residents; I truly love the elderly, and they've led such interesting lives when you listen to them talk. It will also be good for me.
I'm beginning to feel optimistic about the future...
I got to go to the gym today! Didn't even know we had one but it sure was nice to use the bike machine. Took it slow & easy, need to work up to longer sessions.
No word on Ruth yet.
Julie (the 65 year old) will go home Wednesday or Thursday. We will miss her, especially me since we talk a lot out in the hall or at meals!
Too many exclamations, but I am feeling so much better, even though the psychiatrist didn't say when I could go home. Boo-hiss! Said I needed to work on planning goals for when I get out.
(Notice how booze has lost interest for me?)
Today we heard from Ruth; she will return soon.
I finally had a long, long session with a psychologist, as well as testing. It was interesting and enlightening; I hated the memory test though, worried I didn't do well.
As I spoke to him about my terrible childhood, my marriage and then the death of my husband and loss of nearly every close relative in the past six years, the tornado, the two car wrecks...he kept nodding. Occasionally he'd say, "And you've never had any counseling?" I'd shake my head, and continue my saga, the three major moves, leaving the newspaper, a few dates with nice men, the growing certainty I wanted to remain alone...my writing, on and on.
At last we began a conversation, and he was greatly compassionate. He asked about my drinking, why I thought it had started and continued. I gave him my thoughts on that, and he seemed to agree.
Anyway, it was a great session.
When I returned to my room...I had a room-mate!! I was surprised, though I knew I could get one at any time.
She seems nice, around my age, but looks much younger.
When I was getting some crushed ice in the kitchen, the psychologist stopped by and said my test was normal. He said the only problem he detected was my concentration and distraction; he said some of that might be due to the new medications (and past drinking). He knew I was worried; I'd said he might think I had dementia after that test!
Okay, that's about all of the journal because once I started getting acquainted with the new room-mate, I didn't write in my journal as often. Also if I wasn't talking to her, I was out in the hallway talking with the other patients. I do remember the bawdy 75-year-old telling stories that made us all laugh.
There was an elderly guy who kept hitting on all the women; he took a particular liking to that lady, but she kept telling him she had no interest in ever being married again.
One day she said he told her he could still shoot squirrels. She started to laugh, and said, "I told him, honey, I used to work in a nursing home and I know your squirrel shooter is broken!"
The next day when he was going to be released, she said, "Well, the squirrel shooter is going to be shot out of here today."
Oh, she was a card!
The room-mate turned out to be an alcoholic; she was the only person (other than the woman who took an overdose of pain pills accidentally) with substance abuse issues. We talked and talked and talked; it was good to share about similar drinking patterns, etc.
For me, it was also a relief; the only direct mention of my drinking was by the psychologist. The psychiatrist seemed far more concerned about my depression & anorexia & suicidal thoughts. He'd sometimes see patients out in the hallway, and if I was out there, he'd lean down and whisper in my ear, "Are you having any bad thoughts?" Jeez!
At any rate, to make a long entry shorter (too late!), I promised two of the elderly ladies I'd visit them when we left there. And my room-mate & I planned to stay in touch. She decided to leave against medical advice, and went home the same day I did: Friday, which made my stay exactly two weeks.
Before I was released, I had to have a plan approved by the social worker & psychiatrist. It consisted of going to stay two days with each of my sisters before heading home. Also, seeing the counselor I'd seen once and her group therapy twice a week. Then setting up volunteer work, not being at home alone as much. And at my suggestion, AA meetings; the social worker wasn't enthusiastic about that, mainly because she said she'd been to the local AA meetings and didn't think it'd work for me. (Turns out she was right.)
When I got home, I did hear from the room-mate once, but then never met as we'd planned. She had broken up with a long-time live-in man, and I think they got back together. Don't know even now.
I also visited the two elderly ladies. One went to a wonderful assisted living home, and she had family nearby, so I didn't go again due to the driving distance. The other one lived with her son, and I got the distinct vibe he didn't want me to visit Ruth again. Unfortunate.
One thing I noticed: the closer time got for anyone (myself included) to go home, the more anxious and worried they were. I wondered how much of our dysfunction was due to our living situations? Or problems with family relationships?
And with that, I'm closing this chapter for now.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
UPDATE WITH LINKS TO SECULAR RECOVERY
I didn't want to leave anyone thinking of secular recovery without some important internet websites/groups.
Here are the ones that have helped me in my recovery:
Cognitive therapy with emphasis on rational recovery. Articles and forums as well as live chats and articles/books/materials.
Women for Sobriety
Especially significant for women only...and personally I do think women have some different issues than male drinkers. Again, this is based on rational, reasoned recovery but with some spiritual connotations -- or emotional.
The Sober Recovery Forum
This forum covers AA discussions as well as secular connections/recovery topics. It has helped me a lot, even without posting. Reading/learning and participation is powerful in recovery.
And one book:
Sober for Good
I've just started this book, but it covers all range of recovery options from AA to secular with personal stories from those who have been sober for at least 5 years.