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Alcohol & It’s Lies

I use to wake up, exhausted, run down, emotionally beat up, ashamed, and anxious. The birds chirping and the sun rising were just a headache-inducing reminder that another day was starting that I needed to drag myself through. I couldn’t appreciate the day. I couldn’t appreciate what I had. I couldn’t be anything other than a girl…who drank too much at night…regretted it all day the next day…and drank again later.

Oh, the hell I was in for so long. Oh, how scared I was. And I couldn’t understand how I got there, how to get out, and I was so embarassed. I was so ashamed. How could I be like this? How could someone with so much talent and ability have fallen into this trap? Everyone drinks to relax, to have fun, to unwind. Why did it go wrong for me?

Well, now I see things differently. I don’t think all those people around me are ALL drinking “just fine” anymore, and I hope that they get out before they get where I was. I don’t see it as ME being unable to “drink responsibly”. I now recognize it as me consuming an addictive substance and eventually becoming addicted.

We are told that “alcoholics” are people who just can’t control their liquor…that only “some people” will ever become like that…that it is their fault for not consuming the product correctly. When in reality, anyone can become addicted to addictive substances, but most of us don’t view alcohol as an addictive drug. We are marketed to, instead of educated. We learn slogans, instead of facts.

If we don’t view it as potentially dangerous, how can we use it safely? And by the way – why do we NEED to use it to begin with? Why do we need to escape, not feel, miss out on the present, mute the world, dull the details? Isn’t THAT the true tragedy? That we all grow up believing that we need that in our lives?

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

Motivating Myself

Around November, I started slacking off on my daily journal. I also stopped meditating before bed…or really any meditating at all. I stopped drinking lemon water, taking bubble baths, going to SMART meetings, or even checking into my Hip Sobriety School’s aftercare group.

Despite stopping what is really my day to day self-care routine, my sobriety was and still is 100% a-okay. I have never been more secure with that. I do not drink. Alcohol is nothing but a lie. I fell for marketing, became reliant, and lost my way for 20+ years, and I am NOT ever going back. I have faced reality long enough to know this is better than any of the lies alcohol fed me.
The thing is, though, I get tired and burnt out on the topic of sobriety, sometimes. I need to sorta “take a break” from all-things-sober. And I dont mean take a break like go drink…I mean like not fucking talk about or listen to people talk about it …Every. Damn. Day.

I obviously want to help others and obviously still need to keep sobriety important, but I just don’t need it to be the ONLY thing I am about. Not anymore. And yet, here I am talking about fucking sobriety in a blog post that wasn’t even suppose to be about it!

Anyways, we get a lot of our time back when we quit drinking. And if you stop all of your daily self-care, you get even more time back! (I don’t recommend that part, btw). It has left me sitting around lately, trying to find ways to “fill my time”. I’ve spent a lot of time mindlessly scrolling Facebook on my phone, surfing the internet, and watching every Amazon original series on the planet.

It left me feeling empty. What is the point of all the mindless activity? Isn’t that what I basically drank for? Isn’t the whole point of not drinking to be healthy, present, and make time meaningful? (At least for me that is the point of it).

So, I decided to ask Google what to do. “what to do instead of Facebook”…”how to find meaningful hobbies”…”what to do when I am bored”. Do you see the irony in this? Lol I stumbled across a bunch of forums where people were discussing these topics. One person said something along the lines of “look, if you just keep sitting around doing the same old thing – you can’t expect motivation to just appear. Part of being an adult is getting off your ass and doing things you might not want to do. From those things, you find stuff you like, stuff you don’t like, and sometimes you get inspired and motivated. Motivation isn’t going to just appear. Stop waiting to be motivated”. And it hit me just like that. Get off your ass! DO something! I have the ability to literally do anything I want to do. Am I really going to look back and say “I’m so glad I spent all that time scrolling facebook on my phone”? No I am not. But could I have great stories to tell about the book I read, the blog post I wrote, the phone call with an old friend, the pottery class I tried, the park me and my dogs checked out? You get the point.

Feeling empty? Get up and do something. Surprisingly, it makes you feel like your life has more meaning! Now, don’t get me wrong. I know sometimes depression, anxiety, and other mental health obstacles cause that feeling, and obviously, there’s a lot more to that than just “get up and do something”. I know when I went through my worst anxiety – I couldn’t even leave my home – and my response to this blog would have been “go fuck yourself, middle aged woman”. But if that’s not what’s holding you back…if it is lack of motivation, boredom, being stuck in a rut…then maybe you’re feeling like I am and maybe this post will be useful.
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.
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I did not drink…but I thought about it

In 11 days, I will be 1 year alcohol-free. I have done a ton of work – regularly blog about being alcohol free, attend a weekly SMART meeting, stay active on several sobriety Facebook groups. I rarely think about alcohol and usually anticipate potential triggers and pre-plan my ass off.

So – I have my shit together, right? I’m stable, right? I have nothing to worry about, right?

Last night, me and hubby checked into the cutest boutique hotel. We walked into this gorgeous suite, and were greeted with two bottles of red. I did not drink, but I thought about it.

Later, we walked down to this gorgeous restaurant with romantic live music playing. We sat at the over-sized table and looked through a delicious farm-to-table menu… covered with fancy drinks that we use to drink at places like this. I did not drink, but I thought about it.

We then booked a spa appointment and were told that they would be happy to welcome us with champagne. I didn’t take them up on that offer, but I thought about it.

While sitting through our delicious dinner, I heard wine glass after wine glass being poured and clinked with cheers. For a moment, I entertained this idea “I could drink tomorrow while hubby goes fishing. He would never know. I could just do it this once”. I sat with that thought for a minute. Normally I’d talk to hubby about it, but the tables were so huge that I felt like I’d be yelling across the room – so instead, I sat with it on my own. I then took a big deep breath and told myself what I’ve said to so many others in this situation… “Think it all the way through. How will you feel when you waste your weekend getaway drunk? How will you feel going for a massage dehydrated and hungover? How will you feel when hubby gets back from fishing and you’re clearly drunk? How will HE feel? Do you want this to be the weekend you drank 11 days before your 1-year celebration”?

Today, hubby left at 5 am to go fishing. I woke up happy and refreshed – because I wasn’t hungover. I had room service delivered – with pineapple juice and sparkling water instead of mimosas. Then I went to the spa where I was welcomed with delicious green tea instead of champagne.

Yesterday, I thought about drinking 4 different times. Today, I can’t even imagine any other way to be other than alcohol-free.

I’m sharing this for a few reasons…1) no matter how long it’s been or how much work you’ve done – don’t underestimate the power of memories and associations 2) that stuff passes just like everything else does 3) we have been taught great tools to get through this stuff – remember to use them 4) I am so grateful to have taken this journey and to have met all of the supportive, wonderful people (like you guys) through this process!

Today I am sober. Today is good. Alcohol can go fuck itself!

 

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Relapse Prevention

I’ve been attending SMART meetings recently and have been reading through their workbook. I find SMART to be a great addition to my sobriety toolbox.  It’s aligned with the sobriety school that I attended and really builds on what I’ve already worked through.  I’m grateful to have found it.

I’m coming up on 11 months alcohol-free.  Alcohol isn’t really on my mind much.  I don’t have to use my tools as much as I use to, and I don’t generally have to worry about sobriety.  I’ve figured out how to replace my old thoughts and activities with new healthy thoughts and activities.  I’m living a new life now, but just because I don’t have to worry often, doesn’t mean I should stop planning.

As the SMART workbook says, “The best way to handle a relapse is to prevent it”!  I really liked the section in the workbook that addressed relapse prevention.  This is exactly what I was looking for at this stage!  Here are the main areas they say to always keep an eye out and prepare for:

Complacency – Beware of thinking “I’ve regained control and might be capable of moderation”.  I’ve had experience in the past with this, and it’s exactly where I tripped up before. My reality – and what I remind myself of when this comes up – I’ve tried the moderation thing.  The thing is – if I could moderate, moderation wouldn’t even be something I’d need to think about doing.  Moderation is a myth.  Either you don’t need to do it, or you wish you could do it.  There’s really no in between.

Association – Even though I’ve worked through a lot of “firsts” and changed a lot of associations that I’ve had with alcohol, there are still some that come up when I’m not expecting it. For example, the other day we were out eating sushi, and I saw a bottle of Sopporo.  For a split second, I thought “Oh wait – why haven’t I ordered Sopporo? I always have Sopporo here”!  Then immediately, I caught it! Without even realizing it, I was already responding to myself “Because I don’t drink anymore, and it wouldn’t be good anyways.  It wouldn’t be just one, and it wouldn’t do anything to improve this experience”.  Luckily, thanks mostly to the book This Naked Mind,  I’ve practiced recognizing this type of thinking and my rational thinking now automatically jumps into place.

Boredom – This is one I am still perfecting.  I didn’t realize how much of my time use to be filled with thinking about drinking and drinking.  And honestly, if I was bored and had no idea what to do… I just made some fancy drink and let the day proceed as a drinking day.  Now, if I am bored and have no idea what to do – I have to actually THINK…TRY…GET OFF MY ASS.  This is something I don’t have a lot of practice doing. I also don’t have a lot of patience – so trying to come up with ideas when I haven’t practiced it much – well, I grow tired of it quickly.  My inner two year old comes out BIG TIME.  “Why do I have to come up with something.  Can’t something just happen already”?  That’s not how the world works, missy!  Be responsible for yourself! Figure your shit out!  So, I need to make a list of “shit to do when I can’t think of shit to do”.  Then it won’t be so hard and frustrating when it comes up.

Emotions – This is another one that I’m still working on.  The thing is, drinkers don’t have a lot of practice in this area.  A lot of us used drinking to help us cope with emotions.  Excited and ready to celebrate? Pop some bubbly!  Exhausted from dealing with work divas all day?  Pour a glass of wine!  Bored out of your mind and don’t want to think?  Have a couple beers!  See what I mean?  Rather than dealing with and going through emotions we didn’t really care for… we just muted them with alcohol.  Early on, I figured out how to have happy moments without hooch.  Those moments are actually SO MUCH better without it, and that’s because it feels GOOD when you’re present and happy!  But… wait, you want me to also be present and feel the shitty ones too? WHAT?!  Yeah, that’s right… the shitty feelings ARE part of the human experience too.  And sure, we can try to distract ourselves, numb ourselves, push those things off for a while – but ya know what? They don’t go away until we face them!  So – while I am not enjoying stress, anger, boredom, frustration… I AM learning to appreciate them. I AM starting to see the value of those emotions. I am also realizing – they don’t last forever!  And honestly, I am starting to appreciate that I have the ability to have them.

Fantasy – We tend to glorify the “good times” and forget the bad parts.  While I don’t believe dwelling on the bad parts is what keeps me sober, I do believe remembering the reality of the situation does.  When I catch myself thinking back to “that cold mug of beer”… or “how great wine on the patio was”… I now think through the entire event.  I question myself. I make myself see the true reality of how I have a bunch of associations to alcohol that are lies – those associations don’t tell the full truth.  They might as well be ads for a big-promising-but-actually-crappy product that you’re like “this is nothing like they said it would be” after you get it!

Frustration – This goes back to that thing I discussed before – we tend to want what we want when we want it… and how we want it.  Part of being sober is recognizing that life isn’t always the way we want it. I am slowly learning acceptance and patience.  Things you watch parents teach their two year old – “no, you have to wait your turn” …. “no, you can’t play with that, it’s not yours” … “we can’t do anything about the fact that it’s raining”… that’s the stuff that I’m having to teach myself now, and it’s important to be patient with myself and remember drinking doesn’t make that stuff any better.

Opportunity  – This one was an interesting one I hadn’t considered until I read it in the workbook.  A triggering event can literally be a situation where you could drink, and no one would ever know.  So, maybe you’re on a work trip – you could drink and get away with it.  Or maybe you’re home alone and there’s a bottle of liquor in the house – you could drink, and no one would even know.  Because I don’t really think about drinking much at this stage, I hadn’t really considered this as a potential situation I’d face.  BUT – I also know perfect storms happen.  So, I think it’s important to plan for situations like this.  Going on a work trip?  You have no plan to drink, but what if the trip is total shit AND your presentation went bad AND you’re bored with nothing to do in the evenings AND your sitting at the hotel bar eating dinner?  It’s pretty damn possible that those circumstances could cause a trigger.  I think the best way to be successful through that is to prepare and have a plan for what I’d do in that situation OR how to prevent it from happening all together!

So, there’s my take on SMART’s relapse prevention tips.  Do any of you have other tips or advice? Have any of you gotten to the “I rarely think of alcohol” and then faced any of the above?  What did you do?

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Self-Care has Many Faces

I am feeling burned out. Last week’s political topics had me exhausted, and I am a member of several sobriety-related groups that were filled with tons of “oops day 1 again” posts that left me feeling like I just can’t possibly help. Exhaustion is my absolute biggest threat to sobriety, but here’s the thing… it’s something I can completely control. I can set appropriate boundaries, arrange my time within them, and limit my exposure to things that drain me quickly. That’s something I use to think was out of my control, but thanks to Holly and HSS, I now know that it is absolutely in my control. So, I spent the weekend off of news and Facebook, I said “No” to hubby when he wanted to go out and invite friends along, I canceled a baseball game with neighbors, and I downloaded some Facebook apps that filter out political posts and sponsored ads (all my sponsored ads are always alcohol products -no matter how many times I say they aren’t relevant to me). I’m not going to “hide from the world” forever, but I love the idea of being able to filter out content when I’m not up for seeing it. When I’m having a conversation and a hot topic comes up, I can say “I don’t want to get into that right now”… so why shouldn’t I be able to tell Facebook the same thing?

I was watching a show the other day that triggered me. I was caught SO off guard. I don’t really think about drinking much, and I can’t think of the last time I was triggered. That’s a beautiful place to be in sobriety, but also a scary place to be when a trigger DOES come up. That night, I had a drinking dream (which I haven’t had in months). I’ve had several dreams about drinking since then, and I keep having this random fear come up “what if I forget that I’m sober and accidentally drink”. It seems RIDICULOUS. How do you forget that you’re sober? But maybe that fear is really telling me that even though I feel stable in my alcohol-free ways, I shouldn’t get too confident about it.

What are you guys doing to keep your energy balanced and sobriety strong as time goes on?

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8 months!

This weekend made 8 months without a drop of alcohol. 8 months of learning how to actually LIVE, 8 months of reality, 8 months of remembering what I ordered on Amazon, 8 months of SO MUCH MORE TIME, 8 months with NO HANGOVERS, 8 months of figuring out what I like and doing it, 8 months of happy, grateful, scared to death, lonely, but SOBER and glad to be it!

I cant believe I am going into Memorial Day weekend, and all I can think about is how awesome every morning will feel!