Thanks for joining me!
There is only one time that is important. Now. It is the only time when we have any power.
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
Thanks for joining me!
There is only one time that is important. Now. It is the only time when we have any power.
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
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.
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.
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 excised 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 stuggle/feelings/victories in an anonymous way. However, this isnt 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 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.
Here 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I sent this text last Saturday morning to a friend I had been chatting via text on Friday night. I sent this text because… well, it was warranted. I had text some things that maybe needed to be said, but not in the way I said them or in the condition I was in when I sent them. This should have been an in-person conversation, but I took a friend’s checking-in-on-me-text as an opportunity to dish out all the bullshit that had been weighing on my heart. They didn’t deserve it. On Saturday morning I felt embarrassed. I felt miserable. I know I made my friend feel miserable as well. To their credit, they took it every bit of it. They accepted what I said with love and compassion and understanding. I am always so grateful for my friends and their patience with me. The only thing they said after my apology text: “Drink some water. I love you.” That, readers, is an excellent friend.
It is probably clear from that story that I kinda fell off the wagon. It would be more appropriate to say that I jumped off the wagon, and ran beside it. I could see it. I knew I could jump back on at anytime, because I was running alongside… then somehow, I looked away and it was gone. My wagon had left me and I was standing there, holding an empty glass and looking at the bottom of my second bottle of wine for the night.
Let’s rewind. A little flashback to Day 26.
Day 25 (blog post previous to this one) I was feeling strong. Feeling good. Feeling like I was built for the sober-life. I loved being sober. Truly. Loved not having hangovers. I loved the feeling of control when I wasn’t drinking. But the coron-apocalypse was still young. The stress of social isolation was still new. And my “30 Days” (a perfect excuse) was coming up.
I almost stopped the blog and didn’t post about this. One of my best friends said I should blog about everything on this journey. He said that it would be a good story and others may also be going through what I am/was going through. He tries to keep me accountable and asks “when did you last blog?” I know he knows, because he follows this blog, but it is kind of him not be shitty about it. He also knows that I started drinking again. Many of my friends do. None of them said a word. I love them for that. They silently cheer me on and love me, even when I fail.
I like to consider myself self-reflective. I try to be honest with myself, even when it hurts or is embarrassing. In the interest of self-reflection, accountability, and because I know I cant be the only one that has failed at this, I am going to try and deconstruct my failure in the hopes that it will help me in the future, and maybe someone else.
The day after posting “Day 25” was Day 26… obviously. I’m not sure why, but being so close to 30 created a shift in my thinking. So excited to be at that first milestone. I wanted to celebrate my 30 days sober (a first for me in a LONG time) with a glass of wine. Typing this now, it seems very silly, but at the time made perfect sense. Kind of vanquishing “The Foe,” if you will. Maybe I felt like I would be taking control of what I thought was controlling me. My plan was to blog on day 30 and discuss the merits of having a glass of wine on day 31… I never made that post because I had that glass of wine on day 30 instead. If I’m being honest, I had two. Instead of seeing Day 30 as a milestone in the journey of my sobriety, I think I starting seeing it as a “mini” finish line. On day 26, I was fully ready to jump back into sobriety after day 31, having sated the “defeated” foe that had been mostly quiet for a couple weeks. But then again, if I am being completely honest, that old foe had started to chat me up around the same time. By day 30, I was persuaded that “quitting anything” would be folly in such a scary and turbulent world. So… on to occasional, and responsible drinking! And “sober over 40” isn’t “moderate drinking over 40” so the blog was on hold… indefinitely it seemed.
I allowed other people’s opinion of my sobriety to influence me. Even though it was unsaid, I knew that my “quarantine buddy” was growing weary of my sobriety. And if I am being honest, I loved being sober, but didn’t really care for it when only one of us was. And since we are all adults here, I will just say it… Sex when one of you is completely sober and the other is a little more on the sloppy side of the drunk spectrum is less than mind-blowing. Also, I thought I could handle having a glass to ease that tension a bit, and enjoy a glass if I wanted to (leading to Mistake #3).
Hubris. I thought I had learned all that I needed to about myself. I KNEW I never wanted to be hungover again and if nothing else would do whatever it took to not be. I KNEW that I could drink moderately. And I did… for a couple weeks. Funny…the things you THINK you KNOW.
That was 23 days ago. It took me 21 days to go from sober to responsible drinker to a raging hangover. 3 short weeks.
Maybe it IS impossible to be sober during such a scary and difficult time. But fuck, if I’m not gonna try.
I think failure is an inevitable part of the recipe for success. This is true of anything worth trying. Weight loss, fitness, academic, personal, or professional goals. Very rarely do we succeed in anything without some bumps and bruises along the way. I failed. I’m not perfect. I didn’t get it “right” on the first try. So fucking what? Just because I DID fail doesn’t mean I have to STAY a failed. I can choose something different, and I do. Yes, I am angry at and disappointed in myself, but I have forgiven others for far worse. I have had two days of self-pity and self-loathing. Two days of a bad belly and icky bowels and just feeling “off.” It’s time to be done with that. So, I am going to take my own advice and forgive me. I am going to be accountable to myself (and others) through this blog. I am going to be honest. I am going to move on.
And because this is still my motherfucking journey, I’m not considering this a starting over. I’m not calling this “Day 2.” I am still on the same journey I started 53 days ago. Shit happens. I have to forgive myself or I will never move on. And I do so I can.
Next goal is to get to Day 90. That is 37 days from now. For those counting, it is 7 days longer than I made it this last time. Between now and then I am going to work on considering 90 days a mile marker, not finish line (mini or otherwise). This is the marathon, woman, not the sprint.
It’s not the falling down that defines you.. its getting right the fuck back up that does…
I would love your input. I’m not a meeting joiner – but any tips/tricks, AF hacks you have, I would love to hear them.
I am grateful to this community for your ear. Grateful for my family and friends.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Sober.
Covid-19 is top of the news, as it should be. It is a scary time. I believe we are in a time of change. A paradigm shift, if you will. I believe what is happening now is going to change the way we look at the world and specifically the way Millennial’s interact with their world going forward. I believe this change will be painful. But ultimately, perhaps we can find some good.
I believe we will all have to live with less. As of March, 2020, we are only just seeing the downstream effects of the impact on our global communities and supply chains. In a consumer driven, “disposable” world obsessed with more, bigger, newer, and scheduled obsolescence – we will be forced to slow down and accept a little less, at least temporarily.
Generations in the past have had these lessons, and I believe we are about to learn them as well.
As restaurants and bars close, gatherings of large numbers of people are cancelled, and children are sent home from school for weeks on end, we are forced to rethink how we live our lives. Currently there is no end in sight for this. My hope is that this is over quickly. We blunt the spread of this through “social isolation” and can get back to our normal existence.
From the time we were infants we have spent our lives trying to understand our world and how we fit into it. As adults, we still learn. Social interaction is a HUGE part of this learning from early on. Limiting social interaction, even temporarily will be detrimental to some and catastrophic for others. Elimination of places to gather – drinks with friends, happy hours, ball games and sporting events, plays, parades, bars, and legion halls will eliminate some of the only external interaction that is available for some people. Changing our physical culture from hand shakes and hugs to fist-bumps and elbow bumps will also have a separating effect on us as a people, albeit small.
What does this have to do with drinking or being sober? In my mind, everything. As we all plan for a world that is very different from the one, we know – we reach for the familiar. We want to understand our world. We want it to make sense. Up until recently, drinking was familiar. Drinking was a way to destress, loosen up, socialize with friends, and relax. If anyone needs to destress, loosen up, and socialize with friends (even if it is in small numbers) it is us, now. In short… I need a drink. Maybe we all do.
So how do I combat this psychological craving? To be honest, I admit that I want a drink first. That is putting it mildly. I admit that what I really want is to get all-the-way, properly, piss drunk, fucked up. I want to forget all this. I want to take a fucking mental break from fear and anxiety. It’s exhausting. I want to close my eyes and down the first of many glasses of wine. I want the sweet release of a hazy brain and watch lazily from a chair as the room spins… I need to get drunk. So badly.
Okay… I said it. I feel better. Now on to the way I have succeeded in NOT drinking (so far). I mentally list the reasons not to drink. Here was the list from last night.
These are the things on my list. I hope you find your own list. If you have other coping ideas – please feel free to share.
Join me in a pledge to:
be community minded.
be kind to each other.
help one another and look out for each other.
learn to cook, sew, plant, preserve food.
reuse, recycle, and repair where we can.
learn self-reliance and patience.
(most importantly) wash our hands.
Love will not cure illness, but it will sure make our world a better place and make what’s happening around us feel a little less scary.
Much love to you all and please stay well!
As I congratulate myself on 21 days sober, and we embark on the end of the world as we know it, I ask myself – well, shit… why try to do this now? Isn’t the end of the world the absolute BEST time to live it up, get sauced, and throw caution to the wind? Shit. Now or never, right?
Well… Yes and no. Depends on how you look at it.
On the one hand, yes. A glass (read: bottle) of red wine would be lovely to wind down from the day of worry over my job (Will I need to take off work? Can I afford that? Is my company in jeopardy?), the state of my 401k and investments (dwindling), my still impending divorce (looming), and whether my stockpile of toilet paper is big enough (probably not) …
However, on the other hand, if this is a real crisis, which I suspect it is – then a clear, level head is exactly what is required. I can think of no better reason to be sober than my family may need me to make preparations and decisions in their best interest. I definitely think more clearly now than I did just a month ago – of this I am certain. In addition to that, I am healthier when less pickled, giving my liver, gut, and immune system a chance to work better. With this in mind, I wish had become sober sooner. From a fiscal perspective, saving money on wine/beer (which would definitely be considered a “non-essential”), frees up my finances for more important things – like that ever growing stockpile of toilet paper.
In all seriousness, take care of yourselves. Take care of your friends and family. Take care of your neighbors. We are literally all in this together. If we work together, look out for each other, and not try and take advantage of each other, things will get better.
I wish you and your family good health.
This subject has been on my mind the past few days, I think because I have been by myself more than usual. Surprisingly, it has been easier not to drink when I am with someone who is drinking than it has been when I am alone. Maybe, this is because I said I will not drink so feel I cannot drink.
Yesterday I wanted a beer. I still have “leftover” beer at my house from before I quit drinking that I refuse to throw out. I am rebellious about it, I guess. I live in a society in which I cannot avoid alcohol. I have already stated I don’t believe alcohol is inherently bad. I do believe it is poison. But many things we ingest are, on some level, poison (many FDA cleared drugs are, for instance). Enough of anything can kill you.
The reason I keep the beer is multi-faceted. 1. I am stubborn and refuse to believe I cannot be around it and not drink it. 2. I must learn live in a world with alcohol, but not partake in it. 3. I keep it around in the “beer fridge” outside in case someone comes over, I can offer them a drink. (Funny, I thought and almost wrote “offer them poison,” which is a funny thing to offer people you like, I suppose. But again, no preaching here. We are all on our own journey). I will keep that beer in my fridge until it “goes bad” or someone drinks it.
This weekend I wanted that someone to be me. I wanted a beer to complement my weekend-warrioring-outside-suburban-farming-bad-assery. I worked really hard outside this weekend and wanted to “reward myself” with a beer.
I live alone. I was doing chores Sunday alone. I had a great day working in the yard. I was sore and exhausted and accomplished almost 100% of my goal for the weekend. I most certainly couldn’t have done nearly as much (or any) if I were hungover. My weekend goals are usually lofty so getting to nearly 100% completion is an accomplishment! Surely, I could reward my hard work with a beer. Two, tops… Besides, no one would know. I could have ONE beer or maybe TWO and not be hungover tomorrow. It would satisfy that “itch” and then the craving would leave me alone for a while.
I don’t crave alcohol in the traditional sense. When I stopped drinking, I did not go into a physical withdraw. I did experience what I considered mini-withdraws after nights of heavy drinking (shaking, heart racing, hangover symptoms). My craving is more psychological than physical. But I think the craving is just as real, and may be more dangerous in some ways. Like many, my psychological craving triggers are reward, pain, stress, and the need to avoid/escape.
So, I had a decision to make. Do I drink the one or two beers that no one is counting but me? Do I let myself be “an adult, goddammit and have a beer if I want to”? Or do I allow myself the option to do the difficult thing? Stick to a commitment and see it through? Do I reward my hard day’s work with a beer or undo the last 16 days of hard work with that same beer?
I considered: What would happen after the two beers? Would there be two more? Would I then drink with friends again or just hide it at home, like a true, closeted drunk? I thought of this blog. Let me tell you, more than once I have thought “I could just delete the blog and no one would know it ever existed – not like I have a ton of followers or anyone is watching really.” But this blog isn’t for others (yet it is), it is for me. Like my relationship with alcohol, it’s complicated. I love this medium and getting my thoughts out in an organized fashion. I love the interaction with others and knowing that maybe I am helping someone that is watching my journey.
I decided to compromise. I did two things: I got in my car and drove to the grocery store. I bought a six pack of Beck’s N/A beer. I also told another friend about my sobriety and about this blog. She requested the URL, so I gave it to her (hey girl – if you’re reading this, thanks!!) I brought the Beck’s home, cracked one open. I drank one fake-beer and almost fell asleep on the couch before I finished it. This was a test. I wouldn’t say I nailed it. I still wanted that beer. But I did pass. Sometimes passing is good enough.
I am becoming more open about my sobriety to friends, and also sharing this blog. I am not a writer by trade, nor am I sober by habit. None of my friends or family know me as either – so sharing both of these things makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. Perhaps this is my next step. Coming out.
In the last year, I couldn’t make it one week without drinking. I would say “okay, one week (or two, or 5 days, or name your time frame) – no booze. If I can’t do that, then I must have a problem…” I can’t be the only person that has said this – made “deals” with myself in order to try and “test” whether I was an alcoholic or not. I have gone A/F for a week and longer in years past – but in these past 8-9 months it has been a real struggle to even get to 7 days. By day two I would drink again or day three.. But I couldn’t make it to seven. I would always have an excuse. Stress at work, celebrate with friends, I’m and adult goddammit and I will have a drink if I want… Name the excuse, I used it. My most recent attempt at 28 days A/F was out of sheer desperation. I thought something has to change or everything I’ve work for is going to fall apart. I felt like my life was starting to unravel and I was the idiot who wouldn’t quit pulling at the loose thread. Now no time is good for a life to unravel, but I felt at this point in my life it was the most inopportune time. So, I dug in and tried to reset my mind about drinking – read some books, bought some journals (that I never used), and did some online research. I had moderate success, but as previously noted, I did cheat.
A sober friend said to me today “it’s easier to be sober when life is easier.” And I am sure that is true. My main reason for wanting to quit drinking was precisely because my life is difficult right now. I was counselled that I will need to be in the best shape of my life mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to face what is coming my way. Divorce is ugly and gets uglier before it gets better. I have many “heavy lifts” emotionally, financially, and logistically with regard to my upcoming “un-nuptials” so need to be focused and clear-headed to face that challenge. In addition, a promotion at work has created more responsibility for me (sometimes good changes are also stressful). By drinking to excess and being hungover multiple days per week, I was not at my best and made my challenges even more challenging. My choosing sobriety is an effort to respond to the need to face those challenges head on, as my best self.
But this is not the only reason I chose to be sober. I also chose to be sober to try and reclaim my life. I have been sober-curious for years. I have questioned myself. Do I have a problem? Do I drink too much? Am I an alcoholic? All the questions every sober-curious, alcohol-soaked person has asked themselves after a night of one-too-many or a day of I-just-wanna-lay-here-and-die.
I choose to be sober now because I absolutely love the way this feels. The benefits of sobriety for me, right now, far outweigh the benefit of being mentally absent and temporarily escaping my reality.
I would think in order to stay sober you need a reason (or reasons) to continue to be sober, even when you don’t really want to be sober. Currently, I have six. I am making this list because I know one day I will want to drink. Time will make me forget how today feels and the juxtaposition of sober life to the alternative. This list serves as my reminder.
So, through cataloging, self-reflection, and taking inventory, I have come up with a few good reasons to stay sober. Here are the short term results of sobriety as I have experienced them over the past two weeks.
These are my six take-aways from this two-week experience and how it has changed me so far. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but it is getting easier. I know that there will be dark days ahead of me, as well as some beautiful ones. I hope to face those sober and fully present. Feel all the things that I must feel, change what can be changed, let go of what must be let go, and accept what must be accepted. I will spend the time doing the work that needs to be done. Building a better me.
Make it a beautiful day, y’all. I intend to.