stopping drinking is just the beginning

I haven’t had a drink since September 14, 2016. That is 156 days and a little over 5 months. I may have stopped drinking but I don’t really feel the emotional tide changing.

I am not naive and there was this part of me that kind of thought that once I stopped drinking that I would be “better.” I know that I told myself, on those mornings after a night of drinking, “if you stop you will feel better about yourself.” Granted, I do physically feel better (with the exception of the increase of sugar eating). Emotionally, I am all over the place. I think that I have often thought, “if this, then this.””If I get out of this awful relationship, then I will be happy.” “If I just get this job, then I will be happy.” “If , if,if,…then,then,then….” You get the picture. If something would just happen, then I would get this. I had a lot riding on this quitting drinking thing. I expected my relationship with my husband to thrive and turn around. I expected that things would *snap* into place. I know that the clouds were not going to part and fairy dust wasn’t going to make everything better BUT I kind of wish it would have. A teensy part of me would love to be “better.”

As I write this, I am realizing that maybe, just maybe there has been a bit of fairy dust happening, after all. Just this week, I went to a talk about white privilege and another talk about race relations and sat in a circle talking to complete strangers about how we can be better humans. I could feel how present I really was. How I really listened and spoke from my heart. Before, I would have drank before I went to the talk – to loosen up, to get that liquid courage.

Stopping drinking really is the beginning. There is work to do. Self-care is the next step. Asking for help. In a couple of hours I am going to see a counselor who is going to work with me on The Work . Then I meet with my friend who is the life coach. Then I am going to spend the evening with my friends playing a game and eating pizza. Most of them will be drinking. I won’t.

I am ready to do the work. I want to show up in my own life. I am showing up in my own life. I like this sober thing even when I am not liking this life thing. I am so thankful to not be drinking during this tragic time in our history. I am present and will remain present. I am going to be showing up EVERYWHERE!

This post is all over the place. What I am trying to say is, if you are new to sobriety and you thought that quitting drinking was going to make everything better and you are feeling edgy and that nothing is better, take a step back. Look around. Look inside. Every minute/second that you don’t drink, you ARE getting better. It may be like a tiny grain of sand and feel like nothing, but each second you don’t drink, grows. You may not feel it yet. But it is there. Slowly, the tide WILL change.

Not drinking is leading me to the person I have always wanted to be. I truly believe that. That person is the person I thought I was WHEN I was drinking! AHA! moment. In the beginning, I drank to feel sophisticated, have a good time, to drink in a bar and have deep conversations into the wee hours of the morning, talking about art and movies and society. I drank to feel like I belong and that I am connected. That is how my drinking started. It didn’t end up that way. In the end, I was alone. VERY ALONE. Lonely and hiding and sad.

I am getting back to me. I am connecting with people, talking about deeply moving and wondrous things. I am painting. I connect on a really meaningful level with my friends. I am feeling like me. I have work to do and I can’t wait. It takes a long time, sometimes, to get back to who you know yourself to be. Stopping drinking, for me, was/is just the beginning. Actually, the beginning was when I knew I didn’t want to do this anymore. It started every single 2am wake up, with that voice that was deep inside of me, that grain of sand, that whispered, “you are so much bigger than this drinking thing.” I may have had to say it a million times until the hourglass tipped. I am so thankful that I finally took that step. I have work to do. I may be on an emotional roller coast, at least I can FEEL it. I can put my arms up in the air and scream all the way.

Sober suits me.

 

 

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These are Sobering Times

Sobering – def. tending to make one thoughtful or sober

How is everyone holding up? I am right here. Doing my sober thing. Being kinder to everyone. Looking people in the eye. Tonight I am going to go dancing. I haven’t been out dancing in ages and cannot remember the last time I have done that sober. I am really looking forward to it. I think we need to do things for ourselves that make us feel alive and part of something bigger. It is easy to stay home and that has it’s own lovely benefits. But right now, during these anxious-ridden times, I think that it is important to be together. Form community. Laugh together. Dance together. Eat together. Cry together.

When we come together and breathe we can then go out and fight with all our might.

That is what I am going to do.

Sober is suiting me really well these days. I am so grateful that I am not drinking during these times. I get to feel all the feels. I am sober and these are sobering times.

 

 

 

 

We Need You

I write this here, for myself.

We need you to not numb yourself. We need you to show up. Be present. Do not cloud yourself in booze, drugs, whatever you use to escape. We have a human rights crisis on our hands right now. We need you. Your powerful, loving self. We need you. Show up and in the words of Glennon Doyle Melton, “Be kind. Be brave. Rest. Repeat.” This isn’t about us AND them. This is about all of us. Fear is not the boss of us. Fear is not the boss of me. Love is the boss of us. Love is the boss of me.

Sober is the only way to be right now and it suits me. We will not get through this time by drinking/eating/using doing those things that will keep us numb. Don’t be numb.

I write this here for myself.

What Gives!?

96-weekly-thought

I just ate an entire Ritter chocolate bar in less than 5 minutes. Like Homer Simpson with a donut. Not just a little square but the whole big square. All of it.

Now, I am recognizing how close to drinking this little action feels like. I am stressed. For us accounting type folks, this time of year is crazy stressful. The new president’s actions are adding more anxiety on top of that stress. I feel out of sorts and off kilter. I am sighing all the time. Heavy deep sighs.Shoulder raising sighs.

So I bought a Ritter bar at the checkout stand of Trader Joes. It called my name. I looked around and it whistled, “down here, lady.” I thought, yeah it has been a stressful week, a little chocolate won’t hurt.” 3.5oz of fine milk chocolate with hazlenuts later, I feel like I just had a drink. Or rather the action felt like when I used to drink. I tell myself, “I have been trying to lay off the sugar (replace sugar with wine) but it has been stressful and a little won’t hurt you.” This would all be fine if I had just a little.

As I am writing this I am thinking, “girl! take it easy on yourself! It’s just chocolate! It isn’t drinking!” But I cannot deny how much my eating it is like what I was trying to do when I drank. It soothes. It peps me up. I ate it here in my little office alone. I didn’t want to share it. I wanted it all to myself. Now after eating it, just minutes ago, I feel gross and tired. Kind of like the way a blackout might feel (if I could remember them). Like if I went to sit on the couch and quiet this busy mind with some mindless TV I would likely pass out. Then in the morning I am going to wake up and say, “what the what with the sugar, girl? Let’s not do that again!” Just like when I would drink.

I shall let it be known that I also bought some yummy little cinnamon swirly thingies that are going to taste fantastic later on. I must confess, I don’t know how to do this stressful thing without drinking. This is my first sober tax season. I would always drink during this time and I don’t know how to do this. I don’t want to drink. I just want to relax. Breathe. I don’t want to numb myself with sugar, but I kind of do. I don’t want to drink, really I don’t. That much I know. I also know about relaxation techniques, breathing, yoga, walking and the like. Sometimes I just want to not do those things. Sometimes, I guess, as I am learning to navigate this life thing, I am not always going to make the best choice. Golly, I am just all over the place here.

How do you navigate stress other than the obvious stress relievers? Does anyone else have these moments/days/weeks of feeling rudderless? I want to hear about the crazy potato chip cravings, sugar crazies and any other things you might have done in early sobriety to get through stress. I want to hear you say, me too. Me too. Then maybe, just maybe I will get back to being nice to myself and do a little yoga or go for a walk.

In other news, I have not had a drink in 135 days. A little over 4 months of not drinking. I have also started to tell some key people in my life (two people) that I had a problem with drinking and that is why I do not drink. I have shared the details of hiding, secrecy and blackouts. I did it. I survived. I didn’t die and they love me even more for being in my truth.

Sober suits me. It really does. It isn’t easy and I sometimes don’t know what I am doing. But sober really does suit me. It suits you too. Really.

 

 

Quitting is hard

Happy New Year to you all. I am on day 110 and wanted to stop in and speak mostly to those who have decided this January to give up drinking for Dry January or for 100 days or forever. I am here to say that it is hard AND it is easy. You don’t need some preachy someone telling you how to do it or what to do. I just want to say that I will never forget that first day and I tell you what, I never thought I would be here at 110 days.

Granted, this is my second 110th day. I have been here before. I know how easy it could be for me to just drink. I could easily just go to my cupboard and open up that homemade Lemoncello a friend made me for Christmas. A lovely lemon vodka drink. Side whisper into your ear, “yes, I know. Why would my friend give me an alcoholic drink for a gift when I have stopped drinking?” That is easy, I haven’t told folks that I have a HUGE problem with drinking. I haven’t told my closest friends. They see me not ordering a drink and know that I have gone through phases of not drinking. They do not know the resolve that I have to not drink. I am going to work on that level of sharing this year.

Anyway. On that first day I woke up in the morning and said, “that is it! No more of this feeling like shit in the mornings!” I had said that the previous mornings for the prior 2 1/2 months though. But this time I knew I had to follow through. I thought that the previous mornings, too. Those mornings were followed by the evenings on the drive home from work. A stop at the grocery store. Two little boxes of cheap wine. I would sit in my car and drink (chug). I am writing this in this moment and I feel such sadness for that woman who was/is me. I used to drink in my car, toward the end of my drinking days, in order to not feel, so that I could pretend to be happy. I still have work to do in this regard. I still come home with a huge bundle of anger on my back that I drop down with a crash for all to see/experience/feel. I am working on this. 2017 is my year to work on being authentic.

Anyway. This quitting drinking thing. It is hard. Really hard. The hard stuff is all the emotional crap that you have been avoiding by drinking. The chemicals/poison that you have been ingesting take a toll on your brain and your entire body. That part is really hard. Your brain fucks with you. That part is effing hard. Your brain will tell you over and over and over and over, “Go ahead. Have a little drinky.” It really does try to convince the knowing you that you will be fine. I am here to tell you that if you drink, you won’t be fine. But you don’t need me to tell you that. You know the battle. The struggle. It is hard.

Here is what helped me get through this hard stuff. Not drinking. Easy. Right? Just don’t drink. Over and over. Don’t drink. Don’t drink. Don’t drink. Don’t drink. Making a decision in every moment and sometimes in every second, nano-second, don’t drink. One foot, one thought, one cup of tea in front of the other. In those moments when I wanted nothing else in my life but that Chardonnay, more than I wanted my relationship with my son, more than my relationships with my friends and family, more than ANYTHING, in those moments I had to just not drink. Don’t drink. I write these words here for myself more than anything. I know the drinker part of me is kind of thinking, “look you made it this far, go ahead. You don’t have a problem at all.” In those/these moments, I open a can of Spindrift sparkling water. I might just chug it. This stuff is the bomb and it is good for you. No added sugar, just fruit and water. I take a deep breath. I pet my dog. Hug my kid. I come here. I write it out. I go for a walk. When I walk I say in my head, “Sober suits me. Sober suits me. Sober suits me.” My mantra. I listen to recovery podcasts. I paint. I read about others who are going through this. I call a friend. I just don’t drink. Anything but drink. Moment by moment. Just get through the moment. This worked for me.

But what do I know? I am not trying to preach or assume that I know your story or that I know best. I don’t. I just know that it can feel really lonely and scary  to give up drinking. It hurts. It feels sad. Sad and lonely can make you want to drink. It made me want to keep drinking. It made me say over and over and over, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will stop.” Today can be your first day. This minute can be the minute you decide that enough is enough. One foot in front of the other. Fake it until you make it. This shit is hard. Really hard. I do offer you this, if you are thinking about quitting or just getting started and you need someone to talk to I am here. I offer this because it might just be what, you who are reading this, need. I am not preachy. I will listen and tell you what I am doing to get through the days. Please feel free to email me at sobersuitsme @ gmail.com

Expect more from me in 2017 as I really work on this authenticity and being me thing.It is about time.

Here is a blessing for us all:

Blessing for a New Beginning – by John O’Donohue

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

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Right here, right now. Sober suits me and it suits you too.

 

101 days

Today is 101 days without a sip of alcohol. The sun is almost set and Christmas eve will be upon us. Tonight my son’s father -my ex-husband (whom I have been friends with since high school – think nearly 37 years), my current husband and myself will sit around the tree and tell stories and the men will likely drink. I kind of would like to as well. This will be the first Christmas eve in FOREVER that I will not drink. The anxiety level is pitching up really high right now and I felt drawn to come here and write it out. The anxiety bubble is growing bigger and bigger and hopefully writing it out will ease the pressure a bit.

Brene Brown wrote today, “Several years ago, I spent Christmas week preparing to be part of an intervention for a good friend battling addiction. The following Christmas one of our parents was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer the day after Christmas. These experiences led me to write what has become “my annual holiday post.” I share it every year because I need the reminder that we are not alone in this mess. Maybe this speaks to you this year:

Every year as I think about my own life and reflect upon what my family and what many of the people around me are going through this Christmas, it’s clear that struggle doesn’t take off for the holidays.

The gremlins don’t go on vacation. Checks bounce, chemotherapy appointments are scheduled, interventions are planned, relationships keep unraveling, being alone feels even lonelier, parents negotiate who will have the kids on Christmas morning, and the “never enoughs” are in full swing.

As I prepare to spend the next few days with my family and friends I come back to this: I will find my holiday magic in the mess. I will practice love and gratitude with the special group of folks who keep showing up and loving me, not despite my vulnerabilities, but because of them.

I’m grateful for our community, for your generosity, and for the respectful way we move forward together and embrace the mess!”

___________________________________

I am going to go embrace the mess. May your mess be a beautiful one and a special thank you to all who have stopped in here to give me strength and support. I don’t know you but I know you. Bless each of you.

Sober suits us.

 

Love and Laugh Through Anxiety

Hello lovelies. I don’t know about you but the holidays are proving to be a rather trying time. This is my first holiday in nearly 25 years that I have not drank a single lick of alcohol. This is also the most triggered time for me, so I am doing great! Compared to last week, I am really trying to take it easy on myself right now. In the past this has been a highly anxious time of year – stemming from just the basic expectations of the “perfect” holiday. I was born to a mother who came from an abusive alcoholic father. Her pain in her life showed up in anxiety for her and consequently for me. The need for perfection is HUGE. I am kind of tired of that bullshit. Good enough has got to work. When I am on my deathbed bed am I going to remember every holiday? NO. I will remember the anxiety. The feelings. I will remember those beautiful moments, too. The Raggedy Ann doll that I still have. The time our dog eat all the candy canes off the tree. My son’s first morning waking up to see presents under the tree. That I will never forget. I would like to focus on the goodness.

I am going to focus on the good stuff. Today I am going to go shopping with my teenage boy – who will likely be away at college next year. I am going to relish in his cranky company and just be with him. Be present and eat lots of cookies. Laugh and love.

I am going to laugh and love today. That is all.

May your day be full of laughter and don’t forget that if you feel like drinking -just remember you have never woken up and said, “boy am I glad I drank last night.” You have never said that. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.

Sober suits me and frankly it suits you too.