Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

This baby sparrow, an image I captured months ago, is symbolic of the "spring" I'm feeling in my step today. Also, look at his tiny baby bird tongue.
This baby sparrow, an image I captured months ago, is symbolic of the “spring” I’m feeling in my step today. Also, look at his tiny baby bird tongue sticking out.

I’ve been worried about myself. My weight continues to creep up. I’ve been drinking two to four glasses of wine (or gin and tonics) nearly every evening. Sometimes more on the weekends. Walking, yoga, and meditation have been sporadic. I’ve been sleeping more and am back to needing a hoist to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve neglected myself to the extent that I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in nearly a year. When I finally forced myself to go for a cleaning a few weeks ago, something happened that has never happened in my life—my blood pressure was high: 143/89. Compare that to one year prior: 106/60.

I’ve been excusing my lack of self-care telling myself I am entitled to fall apart due to the losses I’ve suffered and the tremendous amount of stress to which I’ve been subjected. I’ve written about it ad nauseam and frankly am a bit sick of myself. For the uninitiated, a brief recap:

  • I began this blog five years ago when I was dating, and briefly engaged to, a huge twat—an emotionally abusive narcissist (not my first) I called Mack. In September 2011 I gave him the boot and set upon a course of healing from the damage he’d done. I was making great strides and had rebounded from the depression when…
  • My eldest brother died suddenly in April 2012 from alcohol-related liver disease at age 56. While he’d been drinking himself to death off and on for years, it seemed sudden because he was found dead in his home.
  • As I struggled to cope with the loss of my eldest brother, my father, who had mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s and vascular), was getting worse. In September 2012 he fell out of bed and hit his head on the nightstand due to disorientation. The injury would require emergency brain surgery, following which he would die at age 83 in hospice one month later on October 18, 2012, while I and the hospice nurse held his hands.
  • Once my eldest brother and father had died, I decided my remaining brother, also an alcoholic, wasn’t going to die, too. So, two months after my father died, I arranged an intervention. My brother agreed to go to rehab and got sober. Three months later, in March 2013, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and died at age 52. Eleven months after my eldest brother had died. Five months after my father had died. I call this the death trifecta.
  • During this period I was forced to interact with my sister and her husband, from whom I’d been estranged for several years. The estrangement occurred when I confronted her after learning that her husband, my brother-in-law, had molested their youngest daughter (now an adult), my niece, years before. I demanded that she tell me why, when she found out what her husband had done to their daughter (her daughter had finally told a school counselor), she hadn’t left him. We didn’t speak for many years, until the dying began. Having been forced to interact, we’ve made tentative steps toward reconciliation and healing. Something I had never dreamed was possible. Nor desired.
  • In June 2013, my mother nearly died from deep vein thrombosis following a minor surgery. A vena cava filter inserted after a hip replacement years ago saved her life. She’s recovered and has been living at an assisted living facility, having now accepted she will not return to the home she shared with my father for thirty-five years. In the meantime, she too has been diagnosed with dementia, which is slowly taking its toll. She had a scare in December (possibly a stroke) and spent two weeks in the hospital and rehab. On Christmas Eve I picked her up at the rehab hospital and took her back to AL, where she was reunited with her very charismatic cat.
  • I have been managing my father’s business (run by my brothers and father for the past thirty-five years until their deaths) from afar, which has been kept afloat after the loss of the three principals by two loyal employees. Other than social security, it is my mother’s sole source of income. In light of her depleted savings (assisted living is expensive), it is important that the business remain viable, even if not hugely profitable.
  • I was my father’s executor, and I am my mother’s executor. I’m also her power of attorney. Which means I pay her bills and work with the realtor to sell her beach house in Galveston, and eventually, the home she shared with my father. I put her car on the market. Manage her insurance renewals. I order her incontinence supplies, cat food, and litter. I’m the point of contact for AL, her doctors, and physical therapist. Managing my mother’s affairs is like running yet another small business.
  • As my day job, I practice law as a civil litigator for BigLaw. I abhor it. Since the dying, it is utterly meaningless. Except the money, which is allowing me to plan my escape and begin again.

So that’s 2011 through 2014 in a nutshell. And here I am, fatter than ever with high blood pressure and probably depression (again). And the drinking, while not technically alcoholism, is not serving me well. It’s time I stopped wallowing and employing coping mechanisms that are negatively impacting my health.

It’s time for Desperate Measures.

  • A few weeks ago, on a lark (even before my blood pressure reading), I signed up for a month of health coaching. This coach is not a diet or weight loss coach, but a HAES (Health At Every Size) coach.Β My first meeting is on Wednesday.
  • I signed up today for the 100-Day Sober Challenge over on Tired of Thinking About Drinking. (Yes, I buried the lead in this post.) This was an even more impulsive move. Until last night, on January 2, 2015, I had no plans to stop drinking. Cutting back, perhaps. Not drinking during the week, perhaps. But not stopping altogether. It occurred to me this morning, however, as I read a handful of posts on sober blogs I follow, that I’ve been secretly craving what they have for quite some time. It’s not about the not drinking so much as it is about renewal. Rebirth. I want what they’re having.

While I write this post on January 3, 2015, this is not a New Year’s Resolution. It’s just that the stars, and my thinking, have aligned with the calendar. Also, the sun has come out today for the first time in what seems like weeks. Stepping outside and feeling the sun on my face conjures up images of a phoenix rising from the ashes. And so I am off for a walk to my new favorite spot where a family of deer lives. I hope they peep out for a visit.


  • hang in there! you’ll find your stride! don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself, do get that blood pressure down! quiet nice walks are just what you need…get into nature, watch the deer, birds and clouds, trees and plants, let them sooth you!


  • Our blogs are great to get it all out so nevermind about repeating things. (I noticed I was writing “my marraige is in crisis” so often my readers must have been thinking, “Yeah, we know.”) All the deaths you’ve experienced is worth repeating and talking about. I can only imagine the grief.

    I lost weight when I quit drinking and my blood pressure got back to a normal range. I’m mad at myself that Chocolate and other sweets have become a new addiction which has increased my waist and in turn raised my blood pressure. Life never gets boring.

    Great post, as always.



    • Thank you, Fern. We repeat the things that matter. I wondered if not drinking would lead to increased sweets consumption. I could live with the waistline expansion, but the high blood pressure is untenable. Tonight it has just led to being wide awake. I might actually finish reading a book. Maybe we’re due for a little boring.


      • Disregard that half of a reply please. Writing on my phone where reply is too easily tapped.

        I was going to say … when I was drinking on a nightly basis my reading consisted of reading a few pages before my eyes got to heavy. These days I am reading book after book. Removing alcohol certainly does change things. So much that it will be a new journey for you to discover. 😊


  • Your blood pressure could as well be the symptom from all the stress you have been living through. Stress raises blood pressure – no matter what is your weight. HAES-coach sounds great!


    • You are right, Fran. I have to manage the stress better. And not with alcohol. For most of my life I have been a consistent exerciser. These past couple of years, especially 2014, I’ve not been consistent at all. I believe that has made all the difference. With mood, sleep, the amount of alcohol desired, blood pressure, and energy. I’m looking forward to the coaching!


  • Wow. Just wow. What you’ve been through…. I’m so sorry! You’re taking steps to improve your life, though – and that’s huge! HUGE! I’m also in Belle’s 100 Day Challenge. It’s an incredible support, truly. I decided to stop drinking when I realized I couldn’t moderate reliably and became more and more uncomfortable with my relationship with alcohol. What it comes down to is: whether or not anyone else thinks you have a problem or should stop drinking doesn’t matter one. little.tiny. bit. Only YOU know what’s going on in your head. I finally stopped when the thought of continuing the way I was going got more terrifying than the thought of stopping a habit I’d nurtured and honed since I was 18 (we’re talking some 37 years). The thought off living without booze scared the absolute SHIT out of me. What I never could have dreamed is how much happier, at peace, serene, full of joy – my existence on this earth has been since I quit. I don’t believe I’m an alcoholic, but I’m not really into “One Size Fits All” in terms of giving names or treatment protocols to things. I blog, read sobriety blogs, have the support of my wonderful husband (who still drinks but it’s ok because he can take it or leave it) and I’m beginning to do a little emotional work after almost five months. The first several months you just take care of YOU. YOU are the priority.
    You go, girl. You GOT this.


    • Thank you so much for your support and for sharing your story. As for the moderation fail, I kept telling myself I’d not drink during the week (Monday through Thursday), and did that occasionally. But more often lately I’ve found myself grabbing the gin bottle on a Monday night, despite telling myself in the morning I would not. And since I’d blown it on Monday, why bother to not drink on Tuesday through Thursday? While I’m not at the physical dependence stage, with my family history, I don’t like the look of things. I know I need to get rid of the crutch to do some healing and figure out who I am, now. I’m surely not who I was in October 2011. Will I stop forever? I don’t know. But I will stop for at least 100 days.


  • You’ve been through way too much and I’m so sorry to read about all these sad events that have happened in your life. Sending a big hug your way.

    I’ve been there, I’ve been so sick from stress that I couldn’t work for almost two years….I know how you are feeling.

    But I’ve learned a LOT since that happened to me over 10 years ago and one thing for sure, dwelling on the sadness, replaying things over and over in your mind, only makes things worse. Drinking too much doesn’t help either.

    What DOES help?

    Taking time just for yourself to TRULY relax and forget about all the things that are bothering you, in any way.

    Laugh, rent as many funny movies as you have time for and watch them, powerful stuff.

    Get out in nature and feel the power of renewal inside yourself there as well.

    Read positive books, sites etc…every day, stay away from more things that make you sad that you have no control over, if at all possible.

    Simple steps that add up to feeling a lot better overall.

    Oh, one more thing, I learned to say NO and mean it, when I was being tugged in all directions by people who wanted me to take care of everything that was wrong in their lives. It was hard for me (I’m a nurturer) but I had to do it and after a while, it felt so good to feel in control again, at least in some ways.

    I hope I don’t sound preachy or that I’m belittling what you’ve been through, far from it. But I have learned some lessons that hard way and if what I learned works for me, can help in any way, I’m glad.

    More hugs, take care and keep a good thought, G


    • Thank you, Geraldine! You do not sound preachy at all. Everything you say makes perfect sense. These are all good ways to pull us out of the stress/anxiety/depression soup. I’ve let myself stew in it for long enough. As for saying no, I don’t feel I have much choice when it comes to helping my mom. Okay, I do have a choice, but I choose to help her. (That feels better.) I have taken on way too many extracurricular bar association responsibilities, and it’s time I handed them back. “No, thank you” sounds like an excellent mantra for 2015.

      Any suggestions for funny movies?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad you took my words in the spirit they were intended. I hope things are easing up a bit for you now. Sending more hugs to you and your family too. And yes, of course you want to help others but not to the point where you can’t say NO when you need to, for your own health and sanity.

        Funny movies, if you haven’t seen MATINEE starring John Goodman, check it out. I also reviewed it at a couple of my blogs and amazon recently too. VERY FUNNY and from start to finish. It’s my new fav movie when I’m stressed.

        Take care and sending good vibes your way too, G


  • Oh my goodness you’ve been through alot! Just found your blog today and was captivated by the title– my daughter says she’s going to live alone proudly with cats too and just trying to prepare myself for that πŸ˜‰ Stay strong!


  • Wow! What a story you have! I want you to succeed in the 100 days because you deserve it. I just wrote today about giving myself that gift (30 days, going for 100 as well) and it is priceless when you can look at things just slightly differently. Hang in there πŸ™‚


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