Sobriety and finding a friend for the end of the world.

Well, not exactly the end of the word… But definitely the end of who you used to be.

As a chronic drinker, occasional binge drinker, or every-day morning-to-night drinker, the alcohol becomes a part of you. It is how your friends and family see you. It is how you see yourself. Sometimes, it becomes a part of your identify.

I have recently been acutely aware of how friends will tell me to “go have a beer” or “have a glass of wine” if I am stressed or over-worked. It’s not a function of their coping – but how they understand my coping mechanisms.

Recently, a friend (that does not drink often) was asking me about doing some side work for him. He said “I will pay a reasonable wage so you can get liquored up at your favorite winery.” He then sent me a funny GIF of a gal drinking from a GIANT glass of wine. This was just a few days ago. It occurs to me… this is how he sees me.

As I said before, I am not sharing this AF journey with many of my friends (actually only 2 know for sure). This exchange with my well-meaning friend did not trigger me. He sent the message and GIF as a joke – but it was a subtle clue of how he does see me. I’m not angry or hurt by this. He didn’t create that image, he is just holding a mirror up to it.

It is very difficult for others to see you in a different light or with a different definition than they once did. I have been through this before, but with a much more significant change (in my opinion).  

I “came out” as bisexual at age 33. I had never openly dated women. I knew I was attracted to women as well as men, but being brought up in a very strict Baptist home (the no-drinking, no rock-n-roll, no pre-marital-sex, pray-away-the-gay kind), I was never able to express that part of myself.  But then, I met my future-(ex)wife and all that changed. I found the courage to tell everyone and to be with her openly. I committed myself to her and damn the consequences. It changed “my” people’s perception of me, of course. Some were very supportive, some were confused, some were angry. I lost friends and family. I was judged by some. I left a very comfortable existence. I had to start over (financially). But I was never happier than in those very stressful, early days.  And even though we did break up after 13 yrs, I would not change a thing. I opened up a part of myself I had kept hidden for years. I became more “myself.” I will never regret it.

It was very stressful for those around me to see me differently- to have to change their definition of who I was. I lost a very good sister-friend (for several years) because she said “we just don’t have anything in common anymore.” It broke my heart. Another friend said “So… all the guys you dated? Was that fake? I don’t know how to see you anymore.” Those things were very hard to hear. Hard to internalize. But I knew I was on the path of my own truth. I knew that this was what I wanted.

I kind of feel like sobriety is going to be the same, but to a lesser degree. I used to drink with many of my friends. It is how we unwind. There is an unspoken rule to never bring up how drunk someone is was, because we have all been there. Many “bad behaviors” are just ignored or laughed at later. I am sure my sobriety is going to cause some stress in a few relationships when I no longer engage in this behavior. They may feel I am judging them (I will not be) or that I am boring (maybe that’s true).

I have shared in the past with my drinking friends that I wanted to stop or control my drinking. I have been met with everything from “That’s fine, but I’m not going to quit” to “That’s stupid. Why would you do that?”  In my sexual journey of self-discovery (going from fake-heterosexual to open-bisexual), I had my ex wife, and her (straight, bi, and lesbian) friends to support me. I also had many friends of my own to support me, even if they struggled to understand. I am not sure I would have told anyone this about myself (even now) had I not met someone who could relate to what I was going through and been willing to hold my hand through that difficult journey.

This is why I say (and am practicing) find a sober-buddy. Find someone that understands what it is like on day 5, 12, 60, 120, or is willing to share those experiences as you both experience them. I have reached out within my sober online group and have made a couple wonderful connections. These people are going through or have gone through the same things I am. We can encourage each other when we are down in a way that I’m not sure my real-life friends can. A sober-buddy can understand the drive to drink when shit is bad, or good, or just because it’s Tuesday. They know the drive because they also have it.

I do realize that this can also backfire, especially when you choose friends on the same part of the path as you. You may both decide to hit the “fuck it” button. That can be catastrophic for you both. That is one way to look at it, and a reason to get a seasoned sober-buddy (or sponsor, if you will). For me it is easier to relate to someone that has about the same number of sober days behind them. They are not removed from those early feelings. They can understand viscerally your feelings right now, on this leg of the journey. You can also do the same for them.

I choose to look at it like having a running-buddy. Both of you have a goal. You’re both there with the same running experience, running at the same pace. When one of you wants to stop, the other is there to encourage you – saying “you got this- come on, let’s go.” You are not always going to feel the same level of motivation as your sober-buddy. When one of you is weak, the other may be strong, and vice versa.

I will say that finding a sober-buddy has been great for me. She has no expectation that I will do X or Y in any situation. I am able to “become” the sober-me in a safe place, free from the old baggage that has made this task so difficult in the past. More than once, in the short 18 days I have been doing this, we have both encouraged each other when it was needed. In addition, I think there is the added motivation to not let the other down. We don’t know each other well at all, but we are in this together, I think. I really do this think this has made a world of difference for me this time around.

Thanks for being a sounding board.

Much love, friends. Stay strong. Stay sober.

Sobriety – Growth, Failure, Vulnerability, and a Milestone

Two weeks ago today, I was have a pretty rough day.

I want to preface this post by saying that “Quit Lit” is amazing and inspiring – but sometimes it feels a little out of touch with my reality. I can relate to the successes and to their “pre-sobriety lives,” but you very infrequently hear about people that fail along the journey as well.  What we get is the final version of success with very little “I fucked this bit up royally” accounts. Usually, the message goes a little something like:  “I quit on my first try – and you can too!” Which is a wonderful message, but I think not very relatable for many of us on the alcohol-struggle-bus.

This blog post, in particular, is a very vulnerable account of my most recent (and hopefully last) failure on this journey. This blog was never meant to be a white-washed version of my AF journey – but a rather raw, honest account of it. When I made that decision, I didn’t really internalize how difficult unfiltered honesty would be. But I want it to be out there so that maybe it can help someone. If nothing else, it can serve as a reminder to me – don’t go back. You hated the way that felt.  

A wise woman never did but should have said (and I’m paraphrasing): Not everything is sunshine and fucking rainbows, Punkin. Sometimes life just fucking sucks. And you deal. Or you don’t.  

Best of luck on your journey and I appreciate you all.  

Honestly, I’m scared shitless to post this… But with all that said…

For those of you paying attention, this blog cuts off around May and resumes just recently (September). This is because I felt that I was unable to handle my divorce, COVID isolation, fear of what was to come, and the sheer logistical maneuvering of what I needed to handle without the occasional beer or glass of wine.  This was a failure on my part. Intellectually, I realized that alcohol did not help me, but just numbed me for a time. Emotionally and psychologically, the “ALA” (alcohol-loving-asshole) convinced me otherwise. I felt I was keeping it “under control.” That is to say, not losing control or making an ass of myself, generally. I thought – sobriety sounds nice, but I have a handle on it (the drinking) this time. I’ve got this. (Hubris.. always my downfall).

Well. I bet you can guess how that played out.

Enter two weeks ago.

I had to interact with my ex-spouse to give her something dear to me – but belonged to her. I wanted her to have it. It was her responsibility – and not having it would make my life easier, but at the same time, a little sadder.  I had not physically laid eyes on my ex in at least 10 months.  Even the divorce was no-contact. Because of COVID, it was a virtual court appearance. Quite literally, I “phoned it in.”

She was meeting me in the evening, at my house, and I was anxious the whole day leading up to it. I was off work so decided to clean the house top-to-bottom (a stress reliever for me), and stop at my local brewery to get a six pack of my favorite- to have a couple and loosen up/relieve stress before she got there.


By the time she got there, the house was spotless and I had 3 or 4 beers in me. I was buzzed, but not drunk.  I was cordial. She was cordial. I gave her what she came to gather. She did not come inside. It was all very detached. All very sterile. Then she lied about something. Something that I knew was a lie. It was an old lie, retold to make me feel sympathy for her – but because this time I was certain it was untrue, the lie just triggered that old feeling of being tricked – being played – being a gas-lighted – of being a fool.


I stayed quiet. I wished her well. She left. But I was definitely set off by the lie. After she left, I finished the last of the six pack, then moved on to 3 giant “might flaws” that were in the back of my fridge. By the end of the first one of those, I was properly, pissed drunk. By the end of the 3rd, well..

A very thoughtful guy I am dating called to see how I was doing. He knew it was going to be a tough day for me and was trying to give me space – but also trying to understand how I felt and how he fit into those feelings. I am still not even sure exactly what he said – but I remember it felt like an accusation. I blew up! I said horrible, intentionally hurtful things. It is no exaggeration to say that I verbally attacked him.  I am very ashamed of the way I acted and the things I said. I am sure I really hurt him. I feel terrible for that.  He came over that evening and forgave me even before I asked for forgiveness, and did so quite easily, given the things I had said.  I am grateful for that. When he has acted the same way towards me in the past, I have not been so quick to forgive.

So, after verbally attacking someone just trying to be there for me and literally poisoning myself to the point of being sick for days, I decided the next morning that this is it. I’m giving it my all.

I decided I would not announce it to anyone (outside of my online group and this blog), or make any sweeping public proclamations. I didn’t even tell the guy I am dating.  He has been with me on this on-again-off-again journey, and I feel like he thinks my desire to quit drinking is an over-reaction to a “bad night.” Maybe it is. Maybe it’s just me being fed up with “bad nights” in general, and thinking there has to be a better way to finish this thing (life) out.

So, I decided to just do it. Quietly. Use this blog. Use my online support group. Be honest with myself first, and others. Be vulnerable. Be open to change.

I’m still working on addressing the root-cause. How do I confront my triggers? How do I ease the pain of being triggered without alcohol? How do I just feel all those feels and be okay with it?  This bit is still under construction. Ever the work in progress.

But so far, keeping this journey confined to myself, that group, and this blog has been the secret sauce. I have spoken about this with two other people. But without any great detail.

For now, I don’t explain why I’m not drinking. I’m just not doing it.

I am currently at 15 days sober and 221 since I started my sobriety journey. Overall, I feel really good. I have had all the weird “chronic detoxing” things you hear about: headaches, disturbed sleep, exhaustion, weird dreams, emotional shit. But I have also had some wonderful byproducts of sobriety: less bloat, more mental clarity, better perspective, NO HANGOVERS (right now, this is #1 on my “positives” list).

I am looking forward to what 365 brings. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Financially. I am committed to 365 now.  I really feel something has “clicked” in a way that it had not before. One year. I can do this.  If you are struggling like me – YOU can do this.

This time is the last time.

Keep.fucking.going.

Much love, friends. Stay healthy. Stay Sober.

Sobriety – day 12 (again) – White knuckling. Strength is where you find it.

Last night was a bit tough for me. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I don’t like to blog when I’m in the middle of intense feeling, or even journal for that matter. When I later read the journal entries written by an impassioned me, I find my thoughts to be disjointed and irrational. I need a little time and space to sus out why I was feeling what I was feeling. Sometimes a little space and perspective helps. For this reason, almost all of what I write will be “after the fact” and not real-time. Lucky for the reader. 😊  

First, I need to be honest about a couple things.

One. I have two bottles of Prosecco in my wine rack and one left-over can of hard seltzer – you know the one that rhymes with Might Flaw. I bought the Prosecco bottles just the other day. I won’t tell the story of how the bottles  got there (that is for another blog post about shame around sobriety), but for now, I will say that they ARE there.

Two. I have realized that one of my drinking-triggers is boredom. Another is being alone. I feel really terrible about that. I am an only-child (save step-siblings), GenX-er – you know the kids that were just bored and had to fucking sit with it and be okay with it? Yeah, that’s me. I drink when I am bored and alone. No great trauma plagues my mind (although there are many), I’m just bored and lonely… Woe is me.  I’m not just a little ashamed of this – but being honest and seeing ourselves for who we are and what drives and motivates us is the only way to self-realization, right?

Okay, on to last night.

I could have worked out. I could have worked on my side hustle. I could have worked in my garden. Hell, I could have worked on actual work projects. I did none of those things. Maybe it’s my dopamine / serotonin receptors rebooting, maybe I’m just wore out – but I have been overly exhausted for the past 5 days. Literally, all I want is sleep. But sleep is dream filled and I wake often. Anyone else go though this early on? What is this? Hormones? Neurotransmitters firing back up? I have no idea but the thought of doing anything other than sitting on the couch last night was way beyond my capacity.

So, I sat. I was angry.  I was frustrated. I questioned why I was doing this. I wanted that Prosecco that I KNEW was on the wine rack, just waiting for me.  In the back of my mind, I did realize that that “one” would turn to into “one bottle” – also, it wasn’t cold… so my mind moved on to the compromise, the hard seltzer.  There it was, sitting in the fridge drawer, cold. Ready for me. There was only one, so I would have to stop there, right?  I mean, who would know? And I could have just the one and go to sleep. Might help me sleep soundly, even. All the same old lies.

I belong to a group online (through facebook) and wrote a quick post about how I was struggling. So many people were kind and responsive. “You can do it!” “I believe in you!” They were so ready to encourage this stranger to just hold on a few more hours. I am so impressed with their kindness. They said – hold on – go to bed early, eat chocolate, sleep will come- and it will be a new day. I didn’t call on any of my friends for support. I even talked to a few and didn’t share that I was struggling. I reached out to strangers. Not because my friends and loved ones don’t care, but because I think they can’t understand. They can’t relate. Having someone who has had to white knuckle through an evening to keep from drinking say that I can do it is encouraging in a way that well-meaning friends and family cannot be. If I had talked to any of my people about how I was feeling, they would have supported me – told me the same thing that the strangers did, but during that time, I needed experience to guide me. Experience to say “I’ve been there and if I can, you can… You got this, girl.”

So, I white knuckled it. I left the Prosecco securely nestled in its cubicle in the wine rack. I left the seltzer sleeping soundly in its refrigerator drawer.  

I drank N/A beer (4 to be exact) ate too many pieces of dark chocolate covered pineapple and went to bed at 9:30 pm.

But I held on. It’s a new day. And it does feel amazing. I really hope that one day, someone struggling with white knuckles will read this and hold on too. Or maybe I will re-visit this post, when and if I need to white knuckle-it again. Seeing that I have done it once means I can certainly do it again. Either way, I am glad I did. Glad I wrote this down. 

I’m thankful to my little online tribe. They pulled me through last night. If you are interested, the group is called “One Year No Beer.”  It’s an interesting way to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.

Thanks for being a sounding board, Blog-friends.

Much love. Stay Healthy. Stay Sober.

.

Day 10 (again) – Take the Win

Goals: Trying to master going alcohol-free while also controlling my diet.

Effort status: Failing at one of those goals.

I started strong with a coffee for breakfast. For lunch: a string cheese, salad, and home made kimchi (I am rebuilding my gut with home grown pro-biotics). You know… good stuff. I decide to skip the salad I brought, and WALK to the local yogurt shop (the tangy pro-biotic kind of yogurt) for an after-lunch sweet. (I am walking, after all.. that’s healthy, right?) So, yogurt shop guy has a special on the board of what can only be described as a “frozen yogurt float.” Frozen yogurt, covered in a choice of cream sodas. I chose red cream soda and banana yogurt. I also buy a pint of the original flavor for my office freezer (you know, for later). I think to myself: What I am eating is full of sugar.. But I mean.. its only one sweet treat, right?

I walk back to my office and and put my frozen yogurt pint in the community freezer…. LO and BEHOLD… some ice-cream-angel has placed an assortment of single serve ice cream treats in there… I look at my “float,” which is almost gone, and think… Fuck it… I choose my favorite, and ate that delicious freebie for my after after-lunch-sweet sweet.

Go ahead… Judge me.

My consolation is, I am not going to drink today. I did not drink yesterday. For today, and the past 10 days, I am treating my body better. I have not intentionally poisoned myself in 10 days. Good for me.

But Yes… I am craving ALL the freaking sugar, and should I be awake in an hour, and not in a sugar-coma, I will probably feel bad about all the sugar I have consumed… I think I can actually hear my pancreas screaming for mercy. I may just have, possibly, given myself diabetes today.

But for right now, no… I don’t feel bad about this at all.

Effort status: SUCCEEDING at one of those goals.

Take the WIN where you can get it folks.. Life is about perspective.

Much love to you all. Stay safe. Stay Sober.

Day?? : Coffee, Contemplation & Contentment

I realize my life is like my favorite coffee cup.
The outside is a little damaged and that damage is visible to others.
I’m  not 100% sure how the damage occurred.
It can’t realistically be returned to original condition. But that is okay.
I don’t need to explain the damage to anyone, and I am allowed to still love it and make the most of it.
It still works just fine for my needs.
It’s filled with wonderful goodness of my own making.

#whatsinthatcoffee?

#notalcohol
#coffeecontemplations
#supersoulsunday

Day Who Knows: alcohol and love toxicity.

Alcohol and love can be toxic.

When a person says, (but their actions say):

I love you (as long as I’m pleased with you),
I am affectionate and want you to feel loved (as long as I don’t feel slighted in any way or need to punish you for something I feel you’ve done wrong),
Facts are real and static (as long as they suit my narrative),
I apologize (but wont change my behavior),

This is not love.
This is manipulation.

Know the difference.

Sometimes, your love is not enough. You cant love them enough to make them change, even if they want to. They must do the hard work themselves.

It is a fool’s errand to be broken and try to fix yourself AND another broken individual. Sometimes you just have to be selfish and say “enough.”

Loving others is vital to your health, happiness and mental well-being.

Loving others at your own expense is a recipe for constant longing, sadness, and low self worth,

Know the difference.

Day 70 – Sobriety and The Cycle of Change / Failure as a Function of Success

I have come to think of my journey to sobriety as a cycle. It is a terrible cycle. For a very long time, drinking moderately was well within reach.  A little buzz, and I was fine. No big deal. Every once in a while, I would “go too hard” or “let the monster out,” as I called her – and I would need to stop, step back and re-evaluate how much I was drinking. There would be a period of abstinence, then a reintroduction of alcohol, where eventually the cycle would repeat itself over and over… For more than 25 fucking years. Sometimes I was able to go very long periods of time in the “moderation” phase of this cycle. But eventually, it always came back to regret.

Over the past year or so, the moderate phase has become shorter, the excessive phase to become longer and more frequent, the regret has converted to capitalized “REGRET,” and the abstinence phase has become difficult to maintain.

From reading about this and researching ways to address this in myself and try to beat this cycle, I realize that failure is yes, indeed a component of long-term success.  It is required for long term success. The success stories of “I quit ‘x’ forever and never looked back” are beautiful and inspiring, but I would guess it was not the “first attempt,” but the final, successful one. I do not try to diminish or take away from anyone’s success. I am grateful to have literature and other’s blogs to read to support me in this journey. Your success inspires me that I can also succeed. Fully. Completely. Permanently.

I was so hopeful when I started this blog that sobriety would come easier with accountability. But I still live with and inside my own head. The demons that created this problem are still there. I have not yet exorcised them. That being said, blogging has been a wonderful experience and I am so very grateful for this medium and being able to share my struggle/feelings/victories in an anonymous way. However, this isn’t the “magic bullet.” I suspect there is no magic bullet. But two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. It is a painfully slow journey. I applaud those that have conquered it on the first try. And I do realize that doing this in the middle of a divorce, a pandemic, and isolation is probably not the most conducive pathway to quick success. But it is the perfect time to do exactly this.

With that said, I persist. I keep walking those two steps forward, knocking my own self down, then getting back up to fight another day.  I think every time we get back up, we get a little stronger than we were the last time we chose to. I think each failure shows us more about ourselves. Each time we refuse to give up and we get back in the game shows us how truly fucking bad ass we are.

undefinedHere is how I want my cycle to look. If I remove excess, I remove regret. Removing moderation will remove excess. Imagine what I can fill that space with! (I do all the time). I think I try to take on the old “foe” over and over again, just to prove (if only to myself) that I never really had a problem. It never had control over me, and it isn’t stronger than I am. That is pride talking.

I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Currently, this is an objective truth. In the past, I have been able to drink in moderation. However, for whatever reason (stress, fear, isolation, boredom), this is no longer possible for me. That is also objective truth. Even if I can drink moderately for a short time – that time is getting shorter and shorter. The excess period is getting longer and longer. The past year, and extra 20 lb, the change in my healthy lifestyle, and more-hangovers-than-I-care-to-admit have shown me that I cannot, currently, moderately drink. Maybe, I wont ever be able to again.

I am not perfect. This is not a fairy-tale story of how easy sobriety is. When you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, sometimes it just fucking sucks.

But there is also beauty. And success. And hope. I haven’t given up on me yet. If you’re struggling, dont give up on yourself either. We are so worth the effort.

Stay healthy. Stay sober. Much love, friends.

Day 69 – Sober(ish) and Life after trauma – Nourish what you want to grow.

Today I relearned a beautiful life lesson.

As I stated previously, I fancy myself a suburban farmer. I have a very small garden and planted a few early spring plants, including kale. I worked the ground in preparation of the plants. I prepared the soil by tilling then adding fertilizer and mulching. I hardened the plants off by putting them outside during the day and bringing them in during the evening for a week before planting them in the ground. I feel like I did everything right and my intention was good.

On the evening I put the plants in, I worked the ground, added a little fertilizer in the hole I dug to secure the root ball and transplanted the little food to it’s new home. I mulched just a little around each plant. I felt accomplished. I felt really good about the effort I had put into my little future endeavor and that these plants would bear leaves that would become salads, side dishes, smoothies, kale chips, and “green powder.”

That evening, there was a huge storm. I knew it would rain that evening, which is why I chose that date to plant them outside. I did not know there would be 50 mph winds, hail the size of marbles, and tornado warnings. I looked out at my poor, sad plants, knowing there was nothing I could do. I was frustrated at the time and energy wasted. I was sure that my plants would be dead. My plans of future harvesting from my time and money investment were gone.

As I suspected, the next day the plants looked awful. Just pitiful. Only one looked like it had survived the onslaught. I was sad and frustrated. All my work – all my effort – for nothing.

I kept watering the plant that looked like it might survive. I also watered the damaged ones as well, just in case there was still hope – although I had little. I had made my mind up to dig them up and replace them with more healthy, mature plants this weekend.

Today, I went out and looked at my little kale plants. They surprised me. Under the wilted, yellow-green, spindly leaves were thick (albeit small) beautifully deep green new growth.

I snapped off the long, damaged leaves to allow more energy to be allocated to the new, healing, beautiful bits. The damaged leaves were larger and had been there longer, but they were draining the resources of the new, healthy growth.

As I am tending to these new plants, I realize this is a wonderful lesson for life-after-trauma.

Have good intentions.

Check the weather and conditions.

Put in the work.

Keep tending your garden, even if you’ve lost hope.

Snap off / address the damaged bits.

Water what you want to grow.

I take this lesson with me on my journey to sobriety as well as addressing other traumas in my life that may have led to my unhealthy relationship with alcohol in the first place.

Much love and Stay well, my friends.

Day 60 – Sobriety and the courage to tell yourself the truth

Sobriety and this pandemic have a few things in common. They are both very isolating. They both invoke fear. They both create a new reality that is immediately uncomfortable. But, in these days of isolation and fear, I have felt a truth trying to come out. Sometimes you find the truth in totally unrelated places and from unexpected sources.

I was chatting to a friend today and she was lamenting about her 20 year chronically failing/failed relationship with her man. She was telling me that she was unhappy and had been unhappy on and off for most of those 20 years. She said something to me that rang true – not just of her relationship, but honestly of everything. It sort-of summed up how I’ve been feeling about this cornonapocalypse isolation, the possibility of illness, unemployment, death…

She said –
“Shit, dude (yes, she calls me dude), I could be on a ventilator in 2 weeks.. is this how I want to live my last two weeks?”

The simplicity and profoundness of this almost made my head explode.
2 days
2 weeks
2 months
2 years
2 decades.
All the same.

This is what has changed for me during this time, but I havent, until now, been able to really put my finger on it. This could be the last two weeks/months/years/decades for any of us.

How do I want to spend it? Rushed? Drunk/Hungover? Anxious? Exhausted? Repeating the same cycle over and over decreasing joy?

Or is there a better way? Can I choose to be deliberate? Sober/Refreshed? Calm? Well-rested? Multiplying kindness and dividing pain? Choosing joy whenever possible?

Seeing in a new light

How do you want to spend the last 2 weeks/months/years/decades of your life? And to that end, does it matter if it’s weeks, months or years? I’m asking myself those same difficult questions. I think I know the answer. I think we all do – We just need to be brave enough to answer honestly, then have the courage to let that answer lead to action.

Looking forward to things changing from the way they are now, but not “getting back to normal.” I don’t think they will ever be “normal” for many of us again. And that is okay.

Sober mind. Healthy body. Purposeful heart. For me, those are the immediate goals.

Stay healthy, everyone.