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.

Day 53 (Sort of) Sober: Hey… Sorry about last night.

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.

Mistake #1

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.  

Mistake #2

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).

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.

Day 25 – Finding reasons NOT to drink in a time that definitely calls for a drink.

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.

  1. I have 24 days sober. I’m doing so good. I haven’t cheated once. Don’t ruin it now.
  2. I hate hangovers. I have to work tomorrow and there is much to do. I can’t be fuzzy headed and feel ill. Also, I hate hangovers
  3. I need my wits. I need to be focused on what needs to be done for my home, my kiddo, my life. I can’t do that properly piss-drunk or hungover.
  4. I can’t afford to pick it back up again. Everyone’s job is in jeopardy except health care workers – even mine – so I can’t afford at $10 / day wine habit again. Knock it off. Austerity measures, bitch.
  5. It really does feel good to be sober.
  6. Tomorrow is 25 days. So close to 30. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

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!