The First Step...OUCH!

The word alcoholic is terrifying.  

Early in my sobriety, I found attaching myself to the word “alcoholic” impossible.  I avoided it whenever possible, except when I was in a meeting.  I couldn’t avoid it there.  I thought that I could get by with doing all of the mandatory obligations, like not picking up a drink, without ever having to admit out loud what my problem was.    I was not at all used to talking about my problems. 

 I never raised my hand in meetings, I never commented on what I was hearing and I did not do the whole 90 in 90 thing.  Instead, I sat quietly in the background and listened to all of the other people speak their truth.  Not me; I was ashamed and nervous to assert myself out of fear of judgement. 

 There had to be something wrong with me for not having the courage to speak my truth as freely as everyone else, right?

 I desperately wanted change but I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to go about changing.  In rehab, I was fine, but alone, on my own, I was not.  I didn’t trust myself or my thoughts.  I lacked the confidence.   So, I just kept showing up, I kept going back.

 This was how recovery works, taking the necessary steps to rebuilding my sanity meant admitting that I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable.  I needed to get over my fear of ridicule and start opening my mouth. I had to start sharing what was on my mind. After all, Recovery is about action.

I have a drinking problem and because I was resistant, I was not getting the support I needed. Accepting my problem, and acknowledging this in a room full of my peers was a both demanding and freeing first step for me. 

 Demanding because is takes guts to finally admit what  I had been hiding.  I am an alcoholic.   Confessing this was the freeing part because that meant that  I was finally ready to release the burdens of guilt, shame, and remorse and take comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone in this journey. Allowing others to see into the dark side of my soul was a relief of epic proportion.

 Being able to speak my truth freely meant that my higher power, who I call God, was working to bring me into recovery; if for no other reason then to give me peace and strength as I move forward in my life. 

 Eventually, what seemed so impossible became just the opposite.  I learned that in order to heal, I have to share.  I have to stand up, own my affliction, and shift my perception of impossible to mean I’m Possible!  

I’m possible!

I'm possible of change!

I'm possible of redemption!

I'm possible of happiness!

                                                                               My new book, Hope Dealer               Coming 2018 

I believe there to be a lot of versatility to the meaning of the word dealer.  Going off the simple definition, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “dealer” means:  to give (something or an amount of something) to someone.  This book intends to do just that.  Give Hope, a lot of it, to others who are still sick and suffering, to family and friends who just don't understand us, to our children and to us. My desire to introduce the concept of dealing in an entirely different and fantastic way comes through the stories of individuals who have found an easier and softer way to live.

 

Accept the GUILT and Surrender!

Guilt is a strong. It’s ugly. It’s complicated. Guilt played a major role in my addiction for a long, long time. Like my ego, my guilt wanted me sick, it needed me to stay sick. Without guilt how was I ever going to atone? 

As a “newbie” I made the mistake of letting my guilt set up camp in the back of my mind. I allowed my thoughts to be manipulated by my fear of letting go of my drunk driving accident. There was a recurrent voice inside of my mind shouting all of the time.  You’re a lousy mother, shame on you".  It was overpowering and hard for me to tune out. 

I was angry, angry at the thought of how boring my life was going to be now without booze and angry at how stupid I was to drive that day. Truthfully, I was annoyed because my secret was out.  Where was that girl? The one who could handle her booze and have a blast on Friday nights? The one who could hang with the boys and still show up for work the next morning?  The fun-loving and energetic life of the party, where was she? When did I become this person? This reckless drunk with now drive or ambition.

It was very clear to me then that I was in trouble.  This disease was a beast and would stop at nothing. Fear took on many forms and disguised itself in many ways; Guilt, Shame, Uncertainly, Loneliness, Insecurity, Pain, Failure all spelled out my ADDICTION. Sitting on my dining room floor and drinking from that bottle of Whisky eight days after leaving rehab taught me one thing.  I needed to learn how to have these types of emotions and then let them go if I was ever going to survive. I could NOT allow them to rage inside of me.

 I started writing, journaling, listening to others and paying attention to the whispers of my life. Eventually, my fears and guilt began to fade. The chatter filling my head with negative thoughts began to fade as well and I was able to start moving forward.

As one month turned into a year, then two years into six years my entire perception shifted. I asked myself….am I willing to give up everything in my life that brings me happiness for this one thing. This one drink, or can I give up this drink for everything else? This also meant giving up the guilt. 

Over time I have become sure of my sobriety and have restored my confidence as a mother and wife.   Through my struggle I have found my strength. All of the blocks I spent decades building were replaced with wisdom.  Being active in my recovery and searching for a softer and easier way lead me to the Oprah Winfrey show.  Sharing my struggle with guilt and hardship of letting it go as a guest on her show opened up enough space in  my mind to believe that change possible and to make that change, that shift, then I needed to give myself permission to move forward. I alone held the key and I was the only person who could unlock my burden of guilt.

I have created a life for myself that I love living. Scars and all. I gave myself permission to have faults, to make mistakes and to surrender. Surrender to a higher power, to my God who has already forgiven me.

 

 


YES


YES, I was driving drunk while my five and seven year old children were in the back seat of my car and I have to live with that.  My intentions that day were not to hurt anyone. I was depressed, self medicating and both had taken over.   That sounds like a bunch of excuses I realize, but it’s the truth.  I was ashamed of myself for the mother, wife and person I had become and I tried to drown my pain with booze.  The accident was inevitable, and my recovery….a gift!


There were multiple signs that indicated I had a problem, I simply chose to ignore them.  On January 10th 2010 I couldn’t hide the truth about my drinking any longer.  I placed my two children in the back seat of my car, drunk. 

I denied the truth about myself because I didn’t want to be labeled a drunk.  I was afraid of what other people might think of me if they ever saw the “real” me.  But who was I kidding? They knew, everyone knew, I was the only one not accepting the truth.

I live under a new mantra today, living sober is the best amends.  This is the only way I can say I’m sorry everyday without having to say it at all.  If I can get up every day, look in the mirror and like what I see, then I know other’s suffering can get there also. The key, for me, was accepting who I saw in the mirror. 

I can't change the past and I have no control over other's thoughts or opinions. I don’t not wish to change my past nor do I wish to shut the door on it.  My past has made me the person I am today and I know unequivocally that I am STRONG and I am LOVED!

Here's What I'm Thinking

January 2015


It's a new year! A time to reflect on what you want to change and improve on.  A time that I get to review the last 12 months and decide if I'm happy with my course or should I take another road. 

It was the five year anniversary of the accident this month.  It was sort of ironic that on the exact day, January 10th, almost to the minute Matt and I drove past the accident scene on our way to dinner.  He looked over at me once past and said, "today's the tenth...right?".  We both paused. "Yeah" a said back to him and we both said in that moment for a minute.

Five years to the day.  I couldn't help but smile and think what a difference time and determination makes.  Five years ago I did the unthinkable. I drove drunk with my children in the car.  I got into a car accident.  In one second everything I loved was almost taken.  I smiled because I'm happy.  I'm free of addiction.  I am no longer shackled to my guilt and most importantly I have a life that I love living. You can't imagine the power I feel in knowing that I have battled my addiction and WON!   

It took time to heal and forgive myself for the mistakes I had made. It took patience and faith to get to the other side.  My mind had to conform with my reality if I wanted to start living the life I had always imagined.  I took ownership of my disease and accountability over my actions. But by far my most important lesson was to never take one day of my sobriety for granted because there is no guarantee that tomorrow I won't drink.  This is what I mean by conforming to my reality.

From that day forward I have been in a constant tug of war with my ego but I have a solid support system to leverage that.  I am grateful for the lessons my addiction has brought to me and I smile proudly for the victory I have today over it.

Driving to dinner that night with Matt was such a monumental moment for us both because we know how fortunate we both are to be able to live in the grace of forgiveness and resilience.

     Living Sober is the best amends.



 

 Here's What I'm Thinking on 

Here is what I'm Thinking 


Following a tragic accident, Amy Baumgardner decided to stop drinking. But only when she let go of her guilt, she managed to stay clean. Read the full article by clicking the link below.


 http://www.floridabeachrehab.com/where-theres-guilt-theres-fear/


Florida Beach Rehab Center offers tailor-made rehab programs. We’re here for you, 24/7: 1877-593-5545 

Here's what I'm Thinking....

August 4, 2014

 I had the most amazing thing happen to me or should I say for me on Saturday.  To give a little back story, about 5 years ago I had taken my wedding gown into a consignment shop to sell it.  I needed money, but not for bills or food, not to care for my children or to help another person.  I needed cash so I could buy booze.  This was the long and tired end to me trying to pretend that everything was under control. I had lost my job and for that my husband bared the brunt of our financial responsibilities.  He alone couldn't afford the mountain of debt that was quickly accomulating.  He took my credit cards, debit cards and check book to make sure I wasn't spending ANY money ANYWHERE.  After I cashed in my retirement from the company I had been let go from, and quickly blew threw it, I needed more money to satisfy my insatiable urge to drink.  The only thing I had left was my wedding gown.  

I took my gown into a local small town consignment shop and agreed to sell it for $500 in which I would get half of that.  I remember the look on the woman's face as I was dragging it in.  She was kind and thoughtful with her words when she asked why I was letting it go.  I didn't have an answer although I'm sure she could smell the booze and had a pretty good idea as to why.  She didn't say anything else to me.  She gave me a consignment slip and out the door I went.

4 months later I was in a drunk driving accident that forever changed the course of my life.  As I recovered from the accident and the wake of my drinking I often thought about my dress and wished I had never given it away.  I was too embarrassed to go back and ask for it back or see if it was sold.  As months passed into years I would drive by that consignment shop and wonder.

On Saturday, I went in.  As I walked through the doorway I see the same woman that had taken the dress from me 5 years prior.  I asked her if she had remembered be.  She smiled at me and motioned for me to follow her.  She led me to the back of the store to a long dusty rack of covered clothing.  She reached in and pulled my dress from the rack and said, "I knew you would be back". I was so overwhelmed at first I didn't know what to say. Seeing my dress, the one I regretted ever letting go of was in my hands after all these years.  The woman looked at me and said softly, " I knew you were letting it go for the wrong reasons, so I kept it for you".   She gave me a huge hug and I thanked her.  

I was amazed at her commitment in holding on to the dress.  She could never have known if I ever were to come back for it, but she believed I would and she let that guide her.  She believed that my gown would someday need to be returned to me so my daughters can cherish it as a piece of me.   She knew that I didn't want to let it go but was too consumed to hold on.  

I am so incredibly blessed by her kindness and willingness to keep this tender moment in my life on a dusty old rack for me until I was truly ready to appreciate it's beauty.



Here it what I'm Thinking........
5/7/2014


Yikes!  Has it really been three weeks since my last post?  Wow, how time certainly does fly by.

As many of you who read my blog know, I have written a book with my husband Matt.  From This Day Forward, A Story of Hope, Faith and Forgiveness  which is in the final stages of publication through HCI as I type this....All very exciting!!!

 The book has turned out beautifully, we each share with the reader how devastating alcoholism is to a marriage, a family and a life.  We share how there is hope through misery and strength in despair in both voices and perspectives.

 In finishing up the details of the book, line editing, format editing, sifting through photos, all the while getting a glimpse of the old Amy.  The lying, manipulative and self-destructive Amy who only cared about her next drink.  The lost little girl awake in the shuffle of reality and delusions. In these glimpses of my life while drinking I can honestly and confidently say that I am a better person because of them.  Sounds strange to hear....I know but isn't that always the case?  Recognizing your true strength in the darkest parts of yourself.  Having the fortitude to carry-on when you feel completely defeated.  I didn't know what I was made of, until I was met by my addiction and recovery.

These photos were reflective of a time in my life that was dark and burdened and every image depicted a scene of confusion and pain.  Blackened eyes, expanded waistlines, and bruised limbs.  One would have thought I was a wrestler in the WWE with the number of contusions and shiners I was sporting in each photo and each one with a story.  It was sad to see the mess my life was in.  The shambles and muddles my life was consumed by. 

It was important for me to keep these photos, keep my days of drinking “green” and easily accessible in my mind.  I can’t forget my past nor do I wish to close the door on it.  Being and alcoholic and having had that accident have proved to be serendipitous. With out them, I couldn't be the woman I am today.

I am without a doubt a stronger,  more resilient, compassionate and more confident mother, wife and friend than ever before and all because I took the first in admitting that I had a problem and then had the courage to forgive myself in spite of it.

These photographs are a reminder.  They are my own personal yellow post-it’s in the forefront of my memory applauding me on how far I have come with my marriage, with my family and with my life. My circumstances have proven to me that I really can get through anything, it just takes a little hope, faith and forgiveness.

  

Here's What I'm Thinking.....

4/16/2014


With our first book coming out this September 2014, From This Day Forward, A Story of Faith, Hope and ForgivenessI wanted to share my thoughts and gratitude on the process of forgiveness and how it truly does set you free.  Forgiveness is internal, it’s for you. That was my first lesson.  In order to have a happy and successful life, I needed to unload my resentments.

I have learned that forgiveness is letting go of the idea that my past circumstances could have been any different. Once we forgive, we let go of all hurts and resentment that so easily keep us from living a happy and authentic life.  Living in the moment and letting go of the accident has brought a new found respect for life, my family and my future.

Forgiveness is not simply saying "I'm sorry". No, real forgiveness takes work and like my sobriety must be practiced one day at a time, one experience at a time, with one person at a time. My journey through forgiveness has taught me that serenity begins when we have compassion and empathy for others.  Addicts or not, we all have a story to tell. 

True healing comes with forgiving yourself first, and then allowing ourselves to empathize with those who have hurt us.  To look at our circumstances with compassion for what the other person may have been going through at the time.  It’s not easy, like I said it takes work.  My initial reaction when someone hurts me is anger, revenge, hate.  I admit it, but I have found that once I learned to take a step back and look at the whole picture, my response softens. My ability to accept that I am not perfect and that I am more than my transgressions allows me to move beyond the transgressions of others, especially my husbands.

I don’t blame Matt for chatting up some other women or having a wondering eye, no more than he blames me for almost killing his children.  Forgiveness means seeing my relationship for what it was, at that time, and accepting that mistakes were made.  This isn’t saying that the memory doesn’t hurt.  All matters of the heart…hurt.  Trust me once you have forgiven…the pain WILL go away and as long as YOU don’t attach an emotion to that memory, the memory fades with the pain.

Today, I focus on the joy in my life and remind myself daily of the amazing steps Matt and I took to rebuild our marriage.  It took work, commitment but most of all it took forgiveness.


Can't wait for you all to read our book, From This Day Forward  this Fall!!!

 

  

 Here's What I'm Thinking

3/26/14


Be passionate, pray BOLDLY!  Go for what you want and accept nothing but positive outcomes.  Once I  realized that I was in control of my own happiness, I was able to transcend into a whole new dimension of my life. 

Let go of the past, cut the ties that bind you to your faults and move beyond your thoughts.  Say to yourself often " ALL THAT MATTERS IS NOW" and you will no doubt feel the shift taking shape in your life.  

No matter what your past circumstances; All That Matters Is NOW!  Forgiveness is a gift and a tool necessary to living an authentic life.  Be happy in the choice to move forward and stand confident in your ability to forgive.  

I believe that anything is forgivable, if you have it in heart to forgive.  Life is short, the time is now to relieve yourself of the burdens that come with holding a grudge, holding onto the past or refusing to let go.  If Matt hadn't forgiven me, where would I be? If I hadn't forgiven him, then where would our family be?  All that matters is NOW, and today I am happy, in love and fulfilled by my life.  

Deepak Chopra says this, " The past is gone, the future is not here, and right now we are free from both".  Let that sink in!  That is the answer to being happy. It doesn't matter what was said or done, All That Matters Is NOW! 

I drove drunk and ignored my responsibilities as a wife and a mother while Matt ignored my addiction and checked out of the marriage. But the beauty of forgiveness is that none of what happened MATTERS!!!

I let go of the past in order to make room for my future and that is what it means, to me, to have an abundant life in the simplest of fashions.

As Henry David Thoreau said...

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."

Here's what I'm Thinking......

March 20, 2014 

I’m venturing out, starting a new position, switching careers mid stream.  It’s scary and I have some apprehension but mostly I am excited for the opportunity to use my degree and work within a school setting again.

This whole experience brought out a lot of fear.  BIG decisions are never easy and we can never be one hundred percent certain that we are making the right ones.  

I needed to rely heavily on my faith this past month, my support system and my ability to look beyond fear. Fear holds us back, locks us down into complacency without us even realizing it. 

 I had this incredible choice to make about my future.  Either to stay in a position that I am comfortable with, one with which I am familiar and respected or I could venture out, without a security blanket to reassure me that everything is going to be fine.  The ease in knowing that all will work out as it’s supposed to. 

The more I contemplated what to do and the more I talked it through with Matt I realized that it was my fear that was holding me back.  I was afraid of trying something new because I was so cozy in my current position.  I was fearful that I would fail at this new position so I was discretely placating my ego and all of its uncertainties.

 Fear is meant to push us forward not hold us back.  Once I realized that I was, in a sense, talking myself out of taking the position because it didn’t look the way I thought it should or because I wanted it to look a certain way,  I made the shift in my mind to focus on this move being positive and eventful regardless of what it looked like. I realized that my ego was picking through the details of the position and looking for them to be negative.  For example, by taking this new position I will be taking on a 45 minute commute.  I was literally arguing with myself on how this was a con, and it is, but I was not weighing my options in a productive manner.  I was sabotaging my own gains by viewing this commute as a negative and then narrowing in on all the things I didn’t like about the position….when I haven’t even started the position yet.  Do you see my point?  I was projecting how to feel about something that hadn’t even happened yet and virtually persuading myself out of expanding my career. Fear was holding me back and not allowing me to see to look at the whole picture.

I shifted my thoughts, after much prayer and meditation.  I started to see my fear as a positive and the catalyst to make the change that is necessary to live my best life.  Everyone one of us is faced with a difficult task or choice to make at some point.  What I have learned, is once we stop focusing on all that is wrong with our decisions and start to consider all that may be right, we have a much better chance and finding our happiness.

This was true even in my marriage.  Once I started to appreciate all the good that was in it, the bad didn’t even matter because all that matters is now.  Right now, I know that I am making the right decision for me and my family. Right now I am certain that my faith and my higher power are in full support of my choices because I choose to believe in the divine plan for my journey. Right now, I'm taking the next step to a brighter tomorrow and if for some reason it doesn't work out...well then at least I’m taking fear out of the equation and replacing it with my own personal security blanket…my faith.

 

Here's What I'm Thinking...
March 5, 2014 



Well, I've done it again. I set myself up to be let down. Now I’m sitting here thinking… what the hell just happened? 

I’m feeling defeated, again!   Such a familiar feeling, one I remember to well. During my drinking I was always feeling letdown or disappointed.  I thought that once I stopped drinking that those feeling would go away but they don’t and I’m adjusting to that. The fact is, life hasn't stopped and the people around me haven’t vanished so chances are I’m going to run into the occasional misfortune, setback or just a flat out bad day.

So what am I expecting? Never to be me met with circumstances beyond my control? To have everything go my way? I understand that is NEVER going to happen but I believe I can speak for most people when I say that sometimes it feels as though nothing…I mean NOTHING is going my way and the only thing I can think about is replacing it, with “IT”.

We all have our “IT”.  Drugs, sex, pills, gambling, work, exercise, whatever.  Whatever takes you out of that lousy moment and sends you into another dimension where there are no worries, burdens, or fears.  You are free. Free from feeling, free from caring, free from whatever IT is that is causing you so much anxiety and frustration.  Whatever is causing you to throw you hands up in the air and say….FUCK IT!

These are definitely the days I need my support system the most. Anyone of the tools in my “bag” will do; a friend to call on and share my frustrations with, a program to use to share my story, a higher power to call on to impart my worries. 

And days like today call for all three.  I know how important it is to remind myself of all the good that is happening in my life and not get so narrowly focused on the bad.  I recognize when the inner child in me wants to retreat back to her hiding spot and wait for the storm to pass.  It’s easy for someone like me to get caught up in my circumstances and focus only on the negative.  The letdowns, failures, and defeats can be to much to carry and throwing my hands up in the air and giving in to my “IT” is all the more appealing.

But there is just one question I am faced with every time my mind and my worries start to consider a drink…I ask…then what?

Let’s say I have that sip of Captain Morgan’s…then what?  What if I go to the bar and order a Miller Lite…then what? Let’s say I give in to my disease and buy a bottle of wine…THEN WHAT?

Then what for me means, all of the work, confidence, dreams, happiness, support, and esteem I have gained over the past four years are GONE! Then What?  What is left for me? Start over…yeah I probably will, if I’m not dead.  It comes down to this, Am I willing to give up this one thing, booze for everything else I have going for me in my life? Or am I going to give up everything for this one, tiny yet toxic fix?

When I say it like that, it’s pretty clear to me what I should be doing.  I’m going accept that in life, we take the good with the bad and some days just aren’t my days. 

 Here's What I'm Thinking.....

February 11, 2014


Having peace the of mind of accepting my past, and focusing on how to better my future came with recognizing the difference between the two.  I am willing, committed and able to live the life I have always imagined yet I am reminded often of the struggle “newcomers “ have to make the shift.  This was clear to me in a conversation I had the other day with a friend of mine who continues to battle their addiction.

                It was hard to sit on the other end of the phone and listen to someone try and justify their drinking and drugging.  I found myself getting short and frustrated with them.  He kept asking me the same question over and over.  “How did you do it?” or “What can I do?”.  I gave him the answer; it just wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear.  So when he would reword his question and ask “what is the secret?”.   For me, the question was the same, so I gave the same answer. 

The problem with my answer, and the alcoholic listening on the other end is we want to complicate things . We refuse to accept that the answer can be so simple. My friend wasn’t listening or accepting the truth about him-self and again asked, “How did you turn your life around”?  I admit I was frustrated, but I kept calm and reminded him that he needed to start being honest with himself about his problem. Which, believe me, is a tremendous first step.  It’s almost unfathomable for us, as addicts, to comprehend that we hold the key to our  own success.  I don’t know why we do this and I don’t know why it is so clear to us after the fact but the answer really is simple.  The answer is…. Stop Drinking!  How did I do it?  I stopped drinking.  What is the secret?  I stopped drinking.  How did I turn my life around?  I stopped drinking.

Once I was able to acknowledge and accept the truth about myself, it was much easier to see the solution.  I had a problem with alcohol and the solution was to STOP DRINKING IT!!!  It does not get much simpler than that.

 Stop drinking is all I kept repeating to him, but that is not what he wanted to hear.  He wanted me to tell him that it was ok to drink because he had a rough childhood.  He was looking for me to condone his drinking because he had two failed marriages and was depressed. He wanted me to say that I understood why he drank and that it was acceptable for him to continue to self destruct because he was abused when he was younger and alcohol gave him the outlet he thought he needed to cope with those memories, but I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say any of that.  What I did tell him was to stop drinking and to seek the guidance and the help of someone in recovery because that is how he was going to survive the wreckage of his past and build on his future.  My friend wasn’t ready to hear my advice, so I hung up the phone but not before telling him that I would help him any way I could and that I would put as much time and energy into his recovery as he was willing to. 

My friend couldn’t promise me that he wasn’t going to drink again and I wasn’t asking for that promise.  Working a program is not saying that we’re never going to drink again, not at all.  It is saying, however, that we’re at least willing to try.  And that, my friends, is the moment when we decide to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him.  Giving ourselves up and out to the universe, to whatever is out there, and willing to help us give sobriety a shot.  We have to be willing, just for the day, the hour, the moment.  We have to be willing to sacrifice booze for a better life.  Is it easy? Hell No! But it’s worth it!

Thanks for letting my share.....

 

SoberBook.com 

Click on the link below to read my "Letter to My Younger Self" on SoberBook.com

http://www.soberbook.com/readchapter.asp?chapterID=206&ref=home

Here is What I'm Thinking.....

February 4, 2014


YES, I was driving drunk while my five and seven year old children were in the back seat of my car and I have to live with that.  My intentions that day were not to hurt anyone. I was depressed, self medicating and both had taken over.   That sounds like a bunch of excuses I realize, but it’s the truth.  I was ashamed of myself for the mother, wife and person I had become and I tried to drown my pain with booze.  The accident was inevitable, and my recovery….a gift!


There were multiple signs that indicated I had a problem, I simply chose to ignore them.  On January 10th 2010 I couldn’t hide the truth about my drinking any longer.  I placed my two children in the back seat of my car, buckled them in, and attempted to drive home.  I don’t remember the car ride. I only remember hearing my son scream out “MOMMY” as I veered off of the road and hit a tree.   

I was three times the legal limit to be behind the wheel of a car. I blackout out and almost killed myself, my children and anyone driving on the road with me. I distinctly remember being pulled from the wreckage and looking over to see my five year old daughter lying on a stretcher.  I screamed for her!  The guilt was immediate and the fear was relentless.  “What have I done” I remember thinking, “What have I done”!

I still say that to myself when I think back and I am four years sober.  I can’t take that day back and I can’t hide from my truth anymore.  I am an alcoholic.  For so long I denied the truth about myself because I didn’t want to be labeled a drunk.  I was afraid of what other people might think of me if they ever saw the “real” me.  But who was I kidding? They knew, everyone knew, I was the only one not accepting the truth. My drinking became so disruptive. It cost me friends, jobs, my home and nearly my daughter. 

After the accident I couldn’t live with myself and I had nothing to offer my family and daughter to show that I was remorseful except, being sober.  I always say that living sober is the best amends.  This is the only way I can say I’m sorry everyday without having to say it at all.

I chose to share my story on Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class back in July of 2012 to advocate for other women and their stories of addiction. In other words, anyone who was feeling the same as me, stuck, alone, scared, and confused. 

 Because I took that first step in admitting defeat, admitting that I was powerless, the relationships with all those who matter in my life are at peace. I am at peace. My past, my guilt, my addiction and in my recovery, I am at peace.  I have forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made and take each day as an opportunity to reach out and start the conversation about addiction.  Luckily, through recovery, I have learned that there truly is a softer and easier way.

If I can get up every day, look in the mirror and like what I see, then I know other’s suffering can get there also. The key to living a fulfilling and happy life is accepting who you see in the mirror.  I hated who I was and what I saw for so long and I never thought it was possible to be happy. Yet, here I am four years after the accident and I can say proudly and with confidence that I am happy.  I don’t not wish to change my past not do I wish to shut the door on it.  My past has made me the person I am today having had that experience.  Life is a journey and the road of recovery is what you make it! 

Here is What I'm Thinking...


The addiction crept into my life like a cancer. 

My world around me pulsing with interests and agendas, except for me. Feeling numb to the noise and chatter in my mind was my agenda. This disease owned me. The longer I sat and drank, the more complacent I became with doing nothing. I was a spectator in my own life.

I wanted to stop the voice inside my head screaming at me to get it together.   Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw less and less of the confident, charismatic woman I was and more of the reckless drunk I was becoming and my mind never stopped.


I hated my life.

I didn't want to see that alcohol was my problem.  I ignored all of the signs. I sat for hours drinking, wondering how I had let my marriage, my career, and my life get so bad.  I would replayed the tape over and over in my mind and wondered how I came to be this person.

No,It was better for me not to think, not to feel.  When I did, I found myself immediately overwhelmed with fear.  There was no possible way to right all of the wrongs I had created and I was left terrified at the mountainous obstacles that stood before me.

This was my life.

Addiction at its best will lie, manipulate, threaten and inject fear into the heart of anyone it meets.  Addiction has a force all its own. My only defense against it was to surrender.  I had to turn my will over.  I could not master it alone, and I needed help.

Nothing made sense to me early in my recovery and I lacked the confidence in myself to believe sobriety was possible. 

Slowly and over time I began to gain confidence the longer I stayed sober and eventually Recovery started making some sense.

I started to believe in myself and through my faith in a loving force that was so much greater than anything I had ever experienced. My faith gave me hope, peace and comfort to know that I was not alone in this fight.

Not everyone has this experience or believes in a power greater than themselves, but in time and through a program you will start to believe that anything is possible and that is when the miracle happens.

As my days turned into weeks,months and even years, I began to cultivate this amazing relationship with that higher power, whom I call God, and I felt at peace.

In Recovery I have grown and created room for growth. I stand brilliantly in my truth today because I Believed. I believed that it was possible to live a sober life. It is in Recovery that I have learned that through our struggles that we find our true strength. We find the courage to rebuild our lives and restore our souls.

If we are never met with darkness, how can we appreciate the light? Sometimes the most aweful thing that happens, turns out to be the most purposeful.

Here is What I'm Thinking......

Once in a while I like to guest post/blog on other site. I will not being posting with them anymore. The message is more about their own personal gain and less about what we all individually have accomplished through sobriety and in sobriety. If you've been following my posts I'm sure you can figure it out. In MY OPINION anything that takes the light off of them is neither encouraged nor supported.  That's just NOT what I am about. I believe in HOPE and I encourage everyone to grow, share and consider my site a place to do just that. It sucks when ones motives are questioned and their intentions are scrutinized.

Here is What I'm Thinking on SoberBook.com

December 30, 2013



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Here is What I'm Thinking on More Than Mommies....

CLICK HERE TO READ MY FEATURED POST

Here's What I'm Thinking....

12/3/2013

 

 I took a trip to Gettysburg over Thanksgiving break.  It was the first time I had been back to the battlefields in over 30 years.  WOW!!  I watched my children climb the very same boulders of Devil's Den I did as a kid.  I ran with them up and over the fields of Big Round Top and into the monument that sits up on top of the hill, the castle as we refer to it. We stood together at the top of the monument looking down onto Devil's Den and laughed at the excitement and views of it all. I was at such great peace with myself and my past in that moment.  I looked down at Matt and Hadley racing from boulder to boulder and my heart felt full.  As if everything that had happened and all the we had been through as a family was preparing us for these moments.  The times when we can look at each other and truly appreciate the moments we have together because we know how it feels to not have them at all..  

I watched my children play and laugh and I had such gratitude in my heart for all that had been done to get me to where I am today, for all that it took for me to appreciate the life I live with my husband and the three beautiful faces God gifted me.  

My days are long and hectic and I rarely stop to appreciate the people in my life that bring me the most joy.  So, I am grateful for the moments I get to reflect and feel thankful.  Life passes us by so quickly.  I encourage everyone to stop in your moments of gratitude long enough to truly appreciate what it means to live in His grace.  How often are we so consumed with the objectives of our days that we neglect it's purpose?  

My trip taught me that it's not about the WHAT, it's about the WHO. Recognizing WHO brings us joy and appreciating WHO we share our moments of gratitude with is what  will bring you peace.

 

Here's What I'm Thinking

11/18/2013

This past weekend I signed my family up for a 5K. Not just any 5K, a Zombie Survival 5k with over 700 runners. It’s is the first event, sporting event, that my kids, Matt and I competed in together. The first time we all were on the same team, contending for the same outcome… To FINISH! We had a ball! After the race, I had a quiet moment to myself where I sat on a bench and thanked Him. I was overwhelmed with the shift my life had taken and I thanked Him for his grace. Hearing the laughter of my children in this moment confirmed for me that if this was all God ever handed me, then these moment’s were enough. I have been blessed.

But something else happened that day that reinforced my belief in the question; does God really give us signs?

For some time now, I have noticed the number 33 randomly popping up throughout my day. On a receipt, glancing at the clock exactly at 3:33, being number 33 in line, Having 33 messages in my in-box, little things. With the number of instances increasing over the years I have asked the question, “do we see what we want to see’? While the answer in most cases would be yes, I started to wonder if this were true in my case? Now, some friends and family would argue that I see this number so often because it represents Matt, my husband. Thirty-three is his jersey number, but lately… I’m not sure I’m convinced.

This number has come up in the most unlikely places which has brought me cause to assume the possibility that there just may be more to the number. The three’s have made their presence in my daily routine so often, even my friends and family have started to take notice and they too have wondered what is behind this unusual occurrence of the three’s. So I’ve did some research.

Jesus performed 33 recorded miracles, 33 is not only a numerical representation of “the Star of David,” but also the numerical equivalent of AMEN: 1+13+5+14=33, and of course 33is Master Number which resonates with the energies of compassion, blessings, inspiration, honesty,discipline, bravery and courage.OK…? All of that told me nothing. So, I started to take notice of when I was seeing 33 and it was then I found my answer.

I was taking a run with a friend on this particular summer evening. The sun was starting to set and I was looking up at all the wonderful colors in the sky as we took our normal path across the school yard. I happened to look down and see yellow post-it lying in the middle of the parking lot a few feet in front of me. I didn’t think anything of it really. Just a piece of paper on the ground, I thought. It didn’t hit me till after I had run by what was on it. I stopped immediately and stood there questioning if that tiny piece of paper really had the number 33 on it. I paused long enough for my friend to now stop also. I turned and walked slowly back to retrieve the post-it. Sure enough there it was. The number 33 written in black ink. Now, this may not sound at all interesting to anyone else but to me it meant that He was listening.

A few days prior to this run I was praying and asking God to show me a sign. Something, anything to let me know that I was on the right path and that my prayers have been heard. I prayed for forgiveness and I asked for the wisdom to know my purpose in this life. And I asked that 33 be my sign of assurance.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw 33 written on that piece of paper, in that empty parking lot with no other stragglers of paper around. I knew then, it was my sign.

God gives each of us glimpses of assurance throughout our days that we are being heard. Some days it’s not that east to see because life happens. We are busy, frustrated, pre-occupied or just too damn exhausted to notice but other days…TRUST ME … they are as clear as He can make them.


Excerpt from our book: From This Day Forward, A Story of Forgiveness

The door of addiction closes just as slowly and quietly as it opens. As a young girl, I was filled with insecurities and struggles.  I was ambiguous about my purpose and I did not have a strong commitment to my faith. I lacked a home, and not in the habitual sense, rather my soul lacked a space to feel abundance. I was searching and yearning to feel accepted and heard.  Drinking gave me a way out.  Alcohol gave me a way to feel accepted and received without having to put too much of myself into anything or anyone. I was able to sit on the side lines and watch life pass me by.  I was a spectator in my own existence.”

 

Coming Soon!!!!


 

Here's What I'm Thinking...

October 16, 2013 

I decided to share a letter that I wrote.  A letter to my younger self.  I wrote this hoping to find comfort and peace during a very trying time of my life. This was written and a time of frustration and enlightenment, it was just after my first year sober. I realized after reading it again what I was talking about and anyone who has ever reached a crossroads in their own lives and relationships or has had a tough choice to make will understand this letter. 

Dear Amy,

When I think of you I remember a lonely, confused little girl who laughed, and played, and tagged along so no-one would see you.  A little girl lost in the shuffle of divorce, poverty and hardships. A little girl desperate for affection.  When I think of you, I am sad at the life you were handed and of all the discomforts you faced as a young girl.  I am sorry for your losses and letdowns and hope this letter will ease some of your ache.

 I have no way of protecting you from the journey that is ahead, and no way of comforting you from the challenges you will face.  Life will be hard for you and there will be many times you question your significance in this world. You are going to make mistakes, some big and some small.  You are going to hurt and hurt others, you will lie, steal, and manipulate.  You will contrive the compassion of others to get what you want and you will dishonor and abandon your faith, marriage and children.  You will question your sanity and will long for a softer, easier way to live. 

I share this with you now so you will understand the plan that God has for you.  All that you are, and all that you will be comes from these difficult times.  It is in the midst of these moments of doubt, humiliation and shame that you will find your purpose.   

You will no doubt come to a crossroads in your life and you will struggle with the choice before you.  At first it will be hard for you to surrender and accept the truth about yourself, but I don’t want you to worry.  Telling the truth isn’t always easy.  And after, you will thank yourself for doing so.  

You have an amazing life-force and will come to see that.  You will understand that you are fortunate to have had those hardships that helped to shape your character.  Because without them, you would never have known how strong you truly are. You, Amy, are a fighter. Your courage, determination, and spirit are all the tools you will need to carry you on.  Your confidence and poise will lead you back to your faith and soon you will breathe a breath of hope for fulfillment and gratitude.  

Life will be better, and your moments filled with laughter and love. You will be proud of the woman you are and mother you have learned to be.  You will be grateful for your lessons and will cherish them once learned.

With Love Always,

The Better Version of You…..

 Here's What I'm Thinking on More Than Mommies......
10/11/2013
 
Love, love, love being apart of this blog.  So amazing to feel the significance of my words touching so many hearts. I share more on Sunday Sip & Learn......stay tuned.....
 
 Click the link below to read my thoughts on More Than Mommies.net
                                                           

More Than Mommies

Here's What I'm Thinking......

10/2/2013

Have you ever gone to a fortune teller? Ever take anyone up on their five free minute reading off the internet? Well I have. Those are the moments in my life when I am uncertain that my hard work and pure will to change is enough.  Those are the times when my old ways of thinking creeps up on me and I am thrust right back into the folds of doubt.

I not suggesting that getting your palm read is in some way sabotaging your circumstances.  I am merely questioning the reasons behind my own lack of faith in those moments.  The disclosure is clearly stated…FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY, yet I take what these clairvoyants are saying and try desperately to find some meaning.  It’s exhausting!  Why can’t I just stick to my faith in my moments of weakness or self-doubt?

Padre Pio, a Capuchin priest, said “Pray or Worry but don’t do both”.  In other words , if you prayed about it, drop it and trust that God has heard you.  But I can’t seem to drop it.  I need to know now!  Is there anyone else out there that does this?

For example, I am waiting on an answer about a project that I am working on.  A project that will bring me and my family much happiness.  I intuitively know that it will be successful, and that these things take time yet I question.  My reservations are manifested into a heavy dark ball of anxiety  that sits right in the pit of my stomach. I try to think about other things and for the most part I do. But inevitably I’m reminded throughout my day that I am still waiting on this response and I am wielded with butterflies, cold sweats and nervous energy.  

This just gets my thinking….

What does having faith really mean to you?  And does it have a time frame?  As an alcoholic, I know I feel the need to complicate even the simplest of tasks, so is that what I’m doing? Because if so, I find it hard to believe that I am alone in this qualm drunk or no-drunk.  I think we all on some level create doubt when our time frame of how things should go or how we want them to go, isn't quite matching up to His.  

I guess I'm learning a very valuable lesson here.  And that lesson is PATIENCE. Things, regardless of what these "things" are in my present moment may not always look the way I want them to and having faith means allowing my higher power enough time to adjust my circumstances accordingly.  Trusting in something greater than myself and having the patience to wait for guidance and understanding has been hard.  I want, what I want, when I want it! Sound Familiar?  

I guess what I can take away from this is to trust that God is noticing all my hard work and is more than willing to reward my efforts, in due time.  He see's the pain in my soul, the willingness in my heart and the strives I have made to change my circumstances.  He already knows what my heart desires so maybe I should just sit back and trust that He has my back and he has not brought me this far to watch me fall. What I need is a little patience.  Makes me want to listen to a little G-n-R!

                                                          Thanks for letting my share, Amy


 

 
 

 Here is What I'm Thinking

9/25/2013


Today I am full of gratitude!  Jack Canfield said, "Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life".  Isn't that statement mind blowing!  He makes it sound so easy and in reality...he's right.

 

I used to be grateful for “things”; a new pair of shoes, my blonde highlights, a fabulous new outfit, a cold beer. I gave so much of myself and put so much of my energy into things, little things, but not the right things.  I was so consumed with material satisfaction I rarely appreciated and was never satisfied with just being ME and how could I be?  I threw away so much of my power.  I relied, heavily, on my outward appearance and the approval of others.   My identity didn’t match my intentions.  They were backwards.  Completely F***’D UP!  The verve of my being was manipulated by false facets of my-self and a much dimmed spirit.

 

Until the day my “perfect” life was infected with….well…..Life and I had no power left to defend myself because I had just given it all away to other “THINGS”.  My marriage, my mind, my body were all infected and I felt helpless.  The ability to see what I loved about my life, my husband and my future were gone. I was weak!  The only way I was able to see a shred of hope in my circumstances was to shift my focus on what I did have rather then what I wanted to have.

I wanted my family and my sanity back, so I began to live each day in the moment and appreciating the mini successes along the way.  Early in my recovery if Matt and I got through an hour without any name calling or finger pointing, I’d chalk that up to a pretty good hour.  Eventually, an hour turned into days, days into months and months into four wonderful years later and in these years I have evolved and aspired to be a better person.

 

Although, Yes, I am still elated at the purchase of a new pair of pumps, my worth is no longer determined by a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, or latest runway fashion.  No, I take pleasure in the simpler things these days and I have found that gratitude is the single most effective way to ensure I am making the right strides to erase the mistakes of yesterday, FORGIVE and live my best life. You cannot label me today, for what I did four years ago.  

And so today, I am full of gratitude!

 

 




STOP THE STIGMA

 


 



My Recovery Rocks Interview with Veronica Valli featured on her website:  http://veronicavalli.com/2013/09/recovery-rocks-amy-baumgardner/

 HAVE THE TALK, STOP THE STIGMA 

Erasing the stigma of addiction and recovery has been my goal since my first day out of rehab.  Why can't I talk about my issues with alcohol openly? What am I afraid of? And why is society so intolerant?  

I realize those closest to us affected by our disease aren't going to understand and can't understand how one thing could have that much control over us. I also realize that asking our family and friends to be patient and supportive gets overwhelming. I'm not asking anyone to understand what us addict go through, I'm just asking to have a conversation with me about it.

The important thing to remember is that we are human and flawed. Each and every one of us and some of our flaws are more apparent then others but we all have them just the same.  

Allowing me to talk about what is characteristically, medically, emotionally, mentally or physically causing me and everyone around me pain is the best way, that I know of, to ease it.  I find comfort in my truth when I share it.  Hearing that another person is going through the exact same struggle,  validates for me that I am not alone in my pain and that there are others, like me, struggling to get by also.

I'm reassured that I am not a weirdo, freak, loser or damaged. I am humanly flawed.  I acknowledge my wrongs and move forward in my journey to ease and erase the shame of my addiction by sharing my experiences. How can that be a bad thing?

Here is what I'm thinking.....

August 26, 2013 

I’m frustrated today….Can I say that out loud?  Sometimes it feels like everyone else is allowed to have a bad day but ME!  Come on ….Really?  If anyone should be allowed to vent their frustrations it should be me, right?  Lately though, I’ve noticed that I get so caught up on being frustrated, I miss out on something really special.   It’s true.  I have got to learn to pace myself.  Life moves so fast.

This morning, for example, I’m getting the kids ready for school, first day by the way, and I paused long enough to take a picture of them.  My oldest is in sixth grade this year. Sixth grade!  Where does the time go?  I’m amazed how with each passing year I have clean, it feels like it’s taken two, but with each passing year with my children, it feels like it goes by in a week.  The last time I checked the calendar had 365 days on it regardless of event, past trauma, or new school year.  This is why I have got to slow it down and enjoy the little mini moments while I can.  Like taking a picture on my back deck of my three prized processions and laughing hysterically at how not one picture is captured with them all smiling proudly.  So years from now, we can all look at it and laugh at how trying it was to take one simple back to school photo.

Instead, I find myself frustrated with the daunting tasks of lunches, and hair bows, snack money and getting out the door on time.  I start my day off all wrong and miss the last few minutes I have with them in the mornings, when it’s just us, no one else.  I overlook the excitement and fear in their motions as we pull up t the bus stop and they reach for the lever on the door to exit the car.  Slowly and timidly stepping out into a brand new school year full of possibilities and practice quizzes, Saturday football games and student councils, new friendships and old camaraderie’s.

I have learned to manage my moods through prayer pretty well but have not mastered how to slow down the clock.  I think we all have this problem from time to time.  My point is, I get so frustrated and focused on the little things that I miss the even smaller ones.  Like the pause and deep breath my daughter takes before she exited the car.  As if she were saying to herself….’here we go’.  But luckily for me, I caught that one and I gave her a smile that assured her she was going to have a great day! So happy for that mini moment between us and reminder that this is what life is all about!

I can’t catch them all and I don’t want to miss a single one.  So I plan on shifting speeds and spending more time in the mini special moments God saves just for me! 

 

Thanks for letting me share....Amy

 



Here is what I'm thinking......

August 16, 2013

 

 

I have this resentment and I’m not supposed to hold on to any, but this one, I can’t seem to shake.  It’s small and insignificant in the grand scheme of it all but truthfully, here it sits.  I have come too far in my journey to have my growth stunted by this one little piece of my past that apparently, I am refusing to let go of. So I am going to share with you. 

I wonder how many of us do this, simply refuse to let go?  I try so hard to convince myself that ‘I’m over it” when in reality, I’m clearly NOT!  I have been so consumed with getting my life back on track and finding the answers that I never stopped to think how much of myself I was truly surrendering.  Have I always held on to things or have I just started doing this since I quit drinking?  I don’t know.  

In the past, while I was drinking, if I got upset with someone or something, I got over it relatively quickly. I didn’t waste too much of my energy holding a grudge, but now I am finding that I am completely intolerant of others actions and am absolutely unwavering in the notion that I should believe people the first time they show me who they are.  

So this is where I am in my life.  I have managed to move past and forgive my husband, myself, and my wrong doings but this resentment I have, I can’t seem to forgive and I am at a loss as to why.  I want to move forward in all areas of my life and have certainly made every possible effort to do so.  I have managed to surround myself with like minded individuals who care and support my sobriety and intentions, I have cleared the negative from my daily routine, I practice gratitude and devotion on the regular, and have chosen a softer, easier way to live. So what gives?  What is the shelf life on hurt feeling and disgruntled pasts?

Here is what I think?  I put so much of myself into relationships that brought me more bad then good that I lost sight on what mattered.  I was so focused on what was being said about me and done to me that it never occurred to me to check in with myself.  I lost sight of what I believed to be true about MYSELF!

  Once I finally figured out that I had a choice in continuing these relationships and NOT believing the garbage others had to say, I stopped putting value in the negative. It was like a light had been turned on.  This is what it means to ‘clean house’.  I began to see that I had been given a gift. A wonderful opportunity to grow and learn from my mistakes and to be a guiding light to others struggling with the same demon.

  I am confident in my abilities to see others for who they are and am quick to sift out the disapproving pessimists from my life.  But still I wonder why it is so hard for me to forgive those who I felt abandoned ship when I needed them the most.  I have no desire to associate myself with people who ‘kick others while their down’ and yet I’m intolerant to the fact that maybe, just maybe, ‘those people’ didn’t know how to help.  Do you see my dilemma?  

I don’t necessarily think that this is a bad thing. In fact, it has been very useful in my quest to change the ‘people, places and things’ suggested throughout my program. This entire journey has proven to be a great big learning experience even down to the company I keep.  What I can take from this is that I am still evolving and I don’t have all of the answers.  Half of the time, I’m taking it day by day like the rest of you.  More importantly, I’m learning that what I think, and what I feel about my life, my relationships and my past…..is MY BUSINESS! 

                    Thanks for letting me share, Amy

 

 

                                              Here is what I am thinking.....

                                                                             August 9, 2013

I was recently asked if I ever got ‘the urge’!  The urge to what, I replied, Drink?  Of course I get the urge to drink, I told them, I’m still human.  Just because I make a choice not to drink doesn't mean I wouldn't still enjoy it.  The problem isn’t the stopping for alcoholics, it’s the starting.  I know that if I were to start drinking again I wouldn’t be able to stop.  One would be too many and 30 wouldn't be enough.  All bets would be off and I would be on my way to yet another failing chapter in my life.

I make a choice everyday to live sober, forgive my past and move forward.  Do I ever get the urge? Hell yes I get the urge, just like I get the urge to bring up old shit my husband and I argued about a month ago, just like I get the urge to eat that cookie even though I just promised myself that I would start my diet, just like I get the urge to second guess myself and my abilities in almost everything I do.  I AM HUMAN!!!!

My thoughts are fleeting and if I can remind myself of that, in the moment, then my circumstances don’t feel so overwhelming.  I try to enjoy life and take it for what it is, a long incredible adventurous human existence in an intoxicatingly uplifting and spiritual journey.  I try to be present in every moment and catch myself when my ego wants to retreat back to my past and remind me how I’ve been wronged, was wrong or am wrong.  I try to stop the chatter in the back of my mind pulling me away from my happiness.  The voice in the back of my mind that never seems to want to quiet, and never has anything all that productive to add.  I tell myself that I am not my thoughts, I am more.  I tell myself that I am not my past, I am forgiven and I encourage myself to forgive as well. 

I am one hundred percent capable of leaving the past and all its pain behind me because I make a conscious choice everyday to do so BUT there are still those times when I think it’s hopeless.  Matt and I still argue, I still think about a drink and sometimes my life feels as though it’s not getting any easier.  There are still those moments when I feel tired and stuck and I will always be fighting a losing battle.  BUT, thankfully, those thoughts pass and I am able to pull myself together and am reminded of how wonderful my life is today.

Those are the days when I need my program, my family and my ‘bag of tools’ the most.  Those are the I look forward to the most because they are the days I am reminded what it means to live in His grace.

                               Thanks for letting me share.....Amy

 

  

Here is what I'm Thinking....

July 29, 2013 

Every recovering alcoholic needs help to overcome their dependence.  For me, I looked toward my faith, humility and self-reflection. The goal of working the “steps” is to acknowledge the underlying turmoil that fed the addiction. At some point it becomes necessary for us, the addicts, to begin to look inward at our own emotional wreckage.

This was a hard step.    Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of my-self was something I thought, I could handle.  I had accepted that I had a problem and I decided to hand my will over, but I was reluctant to relive all of my mistakes and misfortunes.  There were some things I’d rather leave in the past and looking back on the times of why my addiction took over, was not how I wanted to spend an afternoon.  Revisiting my past was going be work, mental work on my part, but if I was truly willing to go to any lengths to get sober, I knew I had to try.

The first thing I did, was get a note book, open it up, and stared at the blank page before me.  Two days later, I took my pen, re-opened the notebook and made three columns on that first page.  In the first column I listed all of the people in my life, past and present, who I was angry at, in the second, I listed why, and in the third column, were my examples as to why I was mad. I noted silly, trivial things. Things that had no real relevance to my problem, alcohol.

The longer I looked at this page the less sense it made.  I was mentally sifting through the confusion and contradiction of my life but I was doing it blindly.  In other words, I was attempting to begin a new chapter in my life and knew that I needed to rid myself of the burdens that jeopardized my growth, but I wasn’t fully letting go and letting God.

I was afraid that if I unleashed all of the suppressed emotions I had from years past, I would destroy what little sobriety I managed to accumulate. My fear was causing me to put off taking the next step because I didn’t trust myself.  I was afraid to look back on the past and those relationships that hurt.  In my mind, I had placed them deep inside of me for a reason and I didn’t see the point of tracing my feeling back to their source. I didn’t understand the freedom of doing so.  I was only on step four and already I was feeling derailed.

I took the notebook and stared at the list of names I had written.  I didn’t care about the why, or the what, I just focused on their names.  I allowed myself to go back, back to my first encounter with these individuals and retraced my relationships with them from that point.  I wanted to try and pin point where the relationship went wrong and what my part may have been in that break down.  Trying to be as honest as I could with myself as to why these relationships were no longer working I began taking notes.  Before long I noticed that I was scribing down words on the page.  Words like jealous, insecure and fear and I found myself wanting to go deeper into their meaning. I quickly learned that it wasn’t always the other person causing the pain and that I had a part in my misery every step of the way.

I’m not talking about the things I went through as a child, the elements in my environment which were out of my control.  No, I’m talking about the trials I went through as a young adult. The reason behind my drinking, the utter and total denial of my truth, and the simplifying of my past. 

Once I looked deep enough and allowed myself to attach emotion to my past, it was easy for me to see that I was holding onto garbage.  The events and people who were long gone and unknowing of my resentment towards them were blocking my attempt at happiness.  I had to ask myself why I was holding on to so much crap? I couldn’t see the point any more.  If I was truly going to have a chance at sobriety I had to move forward.  I needed to allow myself to feel the hurt and then surrender it to a power greater than myself.  I needed to forgive.  Forgive myself, forgive my past and forgive all those before who had contributed to my downfall either directly or indirectly.  I needed to say and repeat..."This happened, it's over".  And so…I did!

Thanks for letting me share, Amy

 

 


 

 

 

 Here is What I'm Thinking...

on July 16, 2013

 

 

I am in the middle of a huge move, literally.  I am closing one door and opening another.  The truth is, I can't help but feel a bit anxious or unsettled.  For me and for my kids. This old house brings back so many memories. Most of which I'd like to forget.

I look around and I'm reminded of my old ways.  Remembering the nights I laid my children down for bed, turned on the television and walked out of the bedroom with not so much as a "have a good night".  Now, clear minded and 4 years sober, and I cringe at what they must have thought all those nights I left them alone with only the television and each other so I could drink with the people I had gathered below them.  What was I thinking?  If these walls could talk they would share with you the times I was too "busy" to read with them or play with them of even take a moment and be still in the pleasure of their company.

This is the part of recovery that I was ill-prepared for, the memories.  If these walls could talk they would share a memory or two of the arguments and bitterness that consumed this dwelling. I look around this vacant space and all I see are those memories and I am very quickly reminded of my short-comings as a parent, a wife and an alcoholic. 

 Memories can be haunting, especially the bad ones. But I cannot allow them to consume me.  How many of us do that? Sit and ponder the mistakes of our past like we have the means to erase them. Thinking about them isn't going to change their outcome. I have to keep reminding myself that "It happened, it’s over, moving on". Otherwise it's torture

So, with that said I am optimistic about our move! Leaving behind these memories and starting new ones is a way to cleanse my soul of the past and rid myself with the burden of regret.  I cannot change the past, it is gone forever, but it doesn't mean that I can't learn from it.I have decided to change my thoughts about our move.  I want to shift my perception on the entire situation.  Although this may be the end result of horrible time in my life, I'd rather focus on this being a brave and new opportunity to give my children the childhood they deserve and a happy home for all of us.  'Out with the old in with the new' type of mentality.  My life is amazing! I am happy and fulfilled just being a wife and mother.  Anything beyond that is a bonus.  Those years I spent drinking taught me a tremendous lesson, to appreciate them more and value my circumstances less. 

Life is hard and it does not come with a playbook.  I stumble, I fall, but I get back up. Each time stronger, wiser and with more clarity on my purpose.  I look at my past with regret and remorse but it is not who I am and it certainly doesn't define me anymore.


Thanks for letting me share, Amy




 



 


 


                          Here is What I'm Thinking....               

    July 9,2013

I just read Glennon Doyle Melton's blog on Momastery this week and all I can say is FINALLY!!!  Finally, someone is not afraid to tell the truth about how they are feeling inside.  Finally, a place where I can go and feel included, apart of, accepted.  I walk through my life with a heavy, heavy heart at times.  Not all of the time, but some of the time.  I feel suffocated, alone, depressed, confused, ashamed, and unloved...some of the time, and FINALLY someone else is saying it also.  Someone else is not afraid to say...."I'm a mess too".

After the accident, I made a commitment to myself to start telling the truth about who I am, what I want, and most importantly what I need.  I made a commitment to my inner child that I would find the answers I was looking for and keep "it" moving.  For the most part, I've been successful at it, but sometimes I have those days where none of this life makes any sense to me.  I second guess and question my intentions, thoughts, actions, words...all of it.  There are those days that I feel scared, lonely , depressed and YES guilty!  It does suck, you're right Glennon!

And it is hard, especially when you have people around you who either want you to succeed or want you to fail.  Either way, I am still letting someone down.  What a vicious, vicious little trap I fall into, if I'm not careful.

Reading Glennon's Blog was refreshing!  I feel assured that it is ok to have 'just one of those days' and we all have them.  I'm not crazy...ok maybe a little, but I'm not drinking, I'm staying focused and I have a wonderful support system to pull me through the funky, ugly truth.

My commitment is strong and I stay strong by writing this to all of you who are reading and hearing the stories of others, who also aren't afraid to stand in their truth with me.

Thanks for letting me share, Amy

 


Read Momastery for yourself......

http://momastery.com/blog/2013/07/09/g-how-are-you/


          

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 Viewers Comments:

Posted: 9/25/13 6:30pm

"So I bookmarked your blog so j can read it daily. I have not waked in your shoes but I have walked in my own and I relate very much to the words and situations and emotions you express.
You were destined to be brave and by putting it all out there shows your true inner strength . We do get lost in life but with the support through our family friends and most of all ourself we can usually with time find ones self again and purpose... Don't stop Amy you are keeping me going through my own personal problems and demons.
Love Kelly"
https://www.facebook.com/amy.baumgardner.3/posts/10201430644586933?comment_id=74056227&offset=0&total_comments=1&ref=notif&notif_t=share_comment
 

"Congratulations Amy on everything you are doing in your life to help others. Not very many people get to be where you are after what you went through. As human beings we are not perfect and we all make huge mistakes but it is what you do with those mistakes and lessons learned to better yourself and help others. You are on the right track no looking back now. Just push forward and keep making a difference in your life and in the life of others. Much love and respect."      https://www.facebook.com/#!/permalink.phpstory_fbid=190189251140941&id=168043973355469&notif_t=wall


 

Posted: Fri 8/10/2012 9:41 AM
This was my first time on Lifeclass. Amy's story is very moving and I can understand how she would carry the guilt with her. I was so moved when she had her breakthrough thanks to Iyanla. Will she be able to carry this breakthrough with her now and live guilt-free. I would love to see a follow up on how she is coping with her new found freedom from guilt and how it has made a change in her life.


Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/A-Mother-Gives-Herself-Permission-to-Move-Beyond-Her-Guilt-Video#ixzz2Sc1U5L3S

 

Posted: Wed 8/8/2012 5:18 PM
This was a powerful and heartfelt show that a lot more people can relate to. People do this and this raises awareness. I would be interested in seeing Amy again with an update on her journey of healing. God Bless you Amy for having the courage to share your story.



Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Iyanla-Vanzant-Helps-A-Mother-Move-From-Guilt-to-Forgiveness-Video_1#ixzz2Sc4544VQ

 

Posted: Tue 8/7/2012 5:19 PM
This was the first time I have watched one of Oprah's life classes. Iyanla and Oprah were able to help Amy get to the root of the guilt. And that is when healing can begin. Amy is a courageous role model. We saw her pain, we saw her guilt and we saw her strength and courage. We saw a determined young woman who made a horrific mistake finally take a step toward forgiving herself and changing her life. We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it.
Thank God for second chances and thank you Iyanly and Oprah for showing Amy and all of us the path to forgivness and joy.
Amy, I will keep you in my prayers and I admire the courage and strength it took for you to share your story with us. Please cherish every joyful moment with your beautiful children.


Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Iyanla-Vanzant-Helps-A-Mother-Move-From-Guilt-to-Forgiveness-Video_1#ixzz2Sc4CQ5ad