Posted in acceptance, motivation, self-care, sobriety, social anxiety, stress

External Measures of Success

So as you guys know, I started grad school in January and am pursuing my masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I made the decision to make this complete change in career while blogging in October! It is hard to believe that everything has happened so quickly!

When I made the decision, I knew it would be difficult. I haven’t been in school in over ten years. I have pretty bad social anxiety -so working in groups and presenting things to the class is going to be tough. Part of the school work is essentially intense therapy, and we all know I have my share of issues! but I wanted to do SOMETHING that mattered. I didn’t want to be a cog in the wheel anymore. I didn’t want to work in a field that is oversaturated and no longer creative and fun. I didn’t want to pretend for one more minute that I give a damn about forecasts, budgets, business suits, and sales meetings.

I want to do something meaningful, compassionate, creative, and purposeful. I told myself that I would simply work hard, do my best, and not let myself worry about the grades, the assignments, the approval of other students. Ha! I think we all knew that I’d be a stressful mess in no time lol! Well, I just got past my first round of exams and papers. I’m a walking ball of knots and stress! I had wine cravings and when I didn’t give in to those – my mind thought it would try for another old escapism go-to -gaming cravings. I did not cave to those either.

The thing is guys, I am programmed to give a fuck about all the stuff. I have spent my entire life believing I have to get the grade, the promotion, the 5 star writeup, and on and on. My anxiety is driven by my constant search for external validation…and here I am…enrolled in 2 years of constant external measures of success lol. Now, I can’t avoid it. I MUST find a way to be successful while somehow not caring SO MUCH about success. It is a great lesson to learn – one that I’m sure I’ll be helping many people through in the future.

Isn’t it funny how we can help others through something and be completely blind to our own selves needing to do the same thing? If I were supporting a friend right now, I would tell her to ramp up her self care. I would tell her that she needs to slow down and remember to also ENJOY the program. I would tell her she is smart and capable, and she always succeeds at everything she tries – so give herself a break! When she pushed back, I’d ask her to list a few times she was doing something REALLY important and thought she’d fail…and have her see how it worked out just fine then too. I’d even ask her to describe what would happen…on the totally unlikely chance that she didn’t make it through the program…and she’d see that everything would still be fine. Then I’d remind her that the reason she is anxious and stressed is because she wants to do well…and that’s totally normal too!

Well, it sounds like I have a pretty good idea what I need to do, huh?

Posted in gratitude, growth, motivation, sobriety, social anxiety

Well, that was fast!

One day, I’m feeling overly confident submitting grad school applications left and right.  Next day, I’m down and thinking I don’t even deserve to get into any of them.  Now….drum roll…I’ve gotten the news that I’m accepted into a program starting in January!  Wow, how drastically the world can feel when living life with anxiety.

Yesterday, I started my day with that great news!  And then I got to do something I’ve sort of missed out on with sobriety.  In giving up alcohol, at first, I was ashamed and embarassed that people would look differently at me.  As time went on, I developed this sense of “not everyone deserves my story” because quite frankly, not everyone does.  People often aren’t educated about addiction and telling those people my story just opens the door for judgement that this socially anxious girl doesn’t need.  So, I’ve spent over 2 years making amazing changes in my life – growing and becoming a completetly different person – but haven’t really shared it with anyone (other than my husband and fellow sober friends).  Yesterday, that completely changed! I got to tell the world that I am a new person… with new goals, new interests, and new pursuits!

I didn’t have to tell the world all about my past problems.  I now have a reason to just announce my change!  This new school adventure… this new career pursuit… gave me the opportunity to finally share this new side of me without having to get too personal with every “friend” on my feed.  Guys and gals, it felt AMAZING!  I got to say…”Hey world.  This is the new me!  I care about mental health and addiction, and I’m going to do something about it”!

You know what else I got to do? I got to give notice to my toxic consulting clients! The worst of my clients did exactly what I expected.  She was furious and said All. The. Shitty. Things.  And guess what? I don’t care.  I was able to tell her – “This is how it is.  Either take advantage of the time I’m still here to help… or waste it being pissed.  Your choice”.  Good riddance!

I know that going back to school is going to be HARD. I know that going into a new field in my 40s is going to be CHALLENGING.  I know that there will be unexpected downsides to this path.  Every path we choose has plusses and minusses.  I’m hoping doing something good in the world and helping people… will outweight whatever minusses come along with it.

Posted in acceptance, change, growth, motivation, self-care, sobriety

It’s happening!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It has been awhile since I’ve blogged. After getting through the initial “firsts” and becoming pretty stable in not drinking- I haven’t felt like I have had much to say. But, this blog isn’t just about sobriety. It is about life after drinking. Yes, getting sober was very difficult . Yes, there were many tools and techniques I had to learn. Yes, there was and still is support needed, but also…those things eventually just become the new normal. That is all just the way life is – using all of my tools, self-care, and support in everyday life. What I’ve learned is that I drank because I didn’t have healthy coping tools…and you actually need those just to live life. And now, I have them…and use them everyday!

So what is there to talk about? Well, how about how I am no longer held back? How about how I have a hope in life that I was never capable of having before? How about how I am a completely different person…and yet somehow the person I’ve always been?

I made a huge decision recently. I decided to career change! There are some things I really love about my current work, but it feels empty at the end of the day. I am a consultant. I help companies discover and solve problems. While I love the analytical nature – the research, coaching, problem solving – what is missing is that rewarding part… the part where I make a difference in something that matters. I’ve been seeking purpose since I got sober. Recently, it hit me – what if I didn’t use these skills to solve companies problems… what if I helped solve people’s problems instead?

I have always loved psychology, mental health, and wellness as subjects. I am frequently following articles, blogs, and studies in that area and have been for as long as I can remember. Why not take what I am drawn to, combine it with my current work skills, and make a real difference?! So… I’m in the process of applying to grad schools, and signing up to volunteer with a crisis line!

It is gonna happen guys and gals! I know it won’t be easy and that there will be obstacles I didn’t expect. But ya know what else? I know I can tackle anything I set out to do! Ya know why I know that? Because I have faced many difficulties and gotten through them. Somehow…someway…I always make it happen. Getting sober gave me an unexpected gift- the ability to trust and believe in myself.

Posted in gratitude, motivation, recovery, self-care, sobriety

Two Years!

2 years! It has been 2 fucking years since I cut alcohol out of my life. In some ways, it seems like a miraculous victory. In other ways, it feels like no big deal anymore. But, I’m not going to let that “no big deal anymore” feeling take away this joy.

2 years ago, I saw things that needed to change in my life, and I did what I had to do to make it happen. I made a decision and followed it through. Sure, I second-guessed the decision hundreds of times, but I trusted “my why” and stuck-the-fuck-at-it. I was miserable, stuck, desperate, but hopeful. And guess what? Everything I thought I’d miss – I don’t. Everything I thought I’d gain, I got …plus SO MANY MORE THINGS that I didn’t even know I was missing.

I am somehow both a completely different person…and yet every bit ME as I’ve ever been. I am still a walking rom-com at times, but that’s me, and I love everything about that. I may still overthink things. I may still worry and suffer with anxiety. I may still have self doubt sometimes, but I also know that I can do anything I put my mind to. I know I can face challenge and adversity. I know that pain, anxiety, and doubt are all temporary feelings. I know how to take deep breaths, meditate, discuss my feelings, and sit and trust that things will work out.

Honestly, what more could I ask for?

Posted in acceptance, gratitude, motivation, self-care, sobriety

A Matter of Choice

Yesterday, I was having a really terrible day. I got woken up repeatedly by my senior cat all night. Then I got woken up 6 more times early in the morning. Then my Outlook crashed 15 minutes before a meeting. Then I showed up to a doctors appointment on the wrong day…and so on and so on.

I’ve written before about how we choose the state of mind we want to be in. And I still believe that, but I was reminded how difficult it can be to WANT to change it when you’re immediately in it.

I reset myself 5 different times yesterday. I went into it kicking and screaming and all “what’s the point”, but after a 5 minute guided meditation, or a breathing exercise, or a shower, or even a short nap – each time I was completely regenerated, calm, and at peace. It really works, if I allow myself to do it.

Recently, I started an online class about happiness. One of the daily exercises is to write 3 good things that happened to me, how they felt, and why they happened. This practice reminded me just how much I control my mood.

If I were to look at my initial description of yesterday – I could say that the day sucked. Based on my opening description – it truly was a terrible day. But, if I look at my 3 good things from yesterday – seeing my hubby after he was gone for the weekend, getting surprise flowers delivered to me, and having an awesome playtime with my pups…watching them wag their tails and enjoy their time with me – if THAT’S how I describe yesterday, instead of all the negative parts, then yesterday was actually an amazing day!

Now, I’m not saying ignore the bad parts or pretend they didnt happen. But instead of dwelling on them – I’m trying to accept the not so good and focus on the good. In the end, it makes me feel really good. It also helps me see more of the good than I use to see.

Anyone else try the 3 good things practice? Any other ideas on seeing the positive in your lives?

Posted in acceptance, self-care, sobriety, trauma

Understanding the Past

Good morning everyone! It is a very crisp 27 degrees this morning! I am sitting outside on our heated porch, with two snuggly pups, listening to the birds.

I read a great post today where the writer was discussing people who call themselves “damaged goods”. I remember when I use to laughingly say that when describing myself to others. Back then, I would tell perfect strangers my worst truths upon meeting them. I’d rather just get it out there, up front, and see if they would stick around. It wasnt worth it to put in the effort of getting to know someone and have them leave once they found out my faults.

Can you imagine thinking you were so flawed that no one would want to be your friend if they really knew you? Some of you can relate, I am sure. People never did turn me away when they heard my flaws, though. In fact, my vulnerability to open up and share personal details almost always resulted in people being even more drawn to me. Funny thing, then I would push them away – “clearly you are a bad judge of character- so I shouldn’t count on you”. I really didn’t think much of myself.

As a child, I was surrounded by abuse, neglect, addiction, and enablement. I never knew my mother, and the family that I did know always hurt me or let me down. I grew to rely on myself. I am a survivor – strong and capable. I am far from perfect and have a long way to go, but I am NOT damaged goods. I use to think I was, but just because irresponsible and unhealthy people treated me poorly does not mean I am damaged. Their actions and poor behavior reflect on them, not on me. They have their own problems and illnesses. They did what they did as a result of that, not because I deserved it. That doesn’t mean I forgive them or can even completely let go of the past (yet)… but I do see it for what it is now.

It is hard as a kid to understand that people have a ton of baggage, and their actions toward you can be weighed down by that baggage. As an adult – as someone who has made mistakes because of my own baggage – I get it a little more, now. Sure, I have never done what was done to me – but I have certainly done things I regret and treated people ways they didnt deserve. We all have.

Today, I can honestly say that I am a good person. I am worth knowing. I bring value to life. It took a lot of soul searching, therapy, addiction, and sobriety to get this far – but here I am.
Posted in addiction, recovery, sobriety

Sober and Struggling?

Sober and struggling today? Surrounded by relatives driving you insane and “just one” glass of wine seems like a way to get through it? Or home alone and “just a little” would really help you get through it?

Think it through. Why did you decide to quit in the first place? What lies did alcohol tell you? What truths were no longer true about drinking? Did the “just one” ever really end up as just one? Did the scattered memories the next day really make you feel better? Did the shame and regret that came the next day….along with the really shitty hangover…really serve you well?

What will you ACTUALLY get out of drinking today?

Humor me for just a few more moments… close your eyes and envision the following: you in your current situation… feeling strong and committed to not drinking today. Imagine the people, the smells, and the feelings. Think about all the details, and imagine you going through all the activities today, not drinking and feeling good about it. SHOW YOUR MIND WHAT RIGHT LOOKS LIKE. Now, imagine tomorrow. What do you feel like after keeping your commitment? What does it feel like to face a hard craving and conquer it?

You can do this. I know it’s hard, but every craving you face and conquer…is a craving that you will face with ease next time. Distract yourself, meditate for a few minutes, or make a really fun non-alcoholic drink. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO, BUT DO NOT DRINK. And tomorrow, reward yourself for your amazing work.
You’ve got this.