Posted in gratitude, motivation, recovery, self-care

Mornings, Meditation, and Moods

Good morning everyone! I’m here at the cabin with my sweet pups, watching the sunrise in the woods, in front of a fire. I am forever grateful to have quiet and peaceful moments like this – time to appreciate the present.

I just completed a 10 minute gratitude meditation. I’m always so amazed at how far meditation goes to restore my calmness, appreciation, and overall wellbeing. 10 little minutes, and my entire morning has changed. 10 minutes, and my day has a renewed spirit.

It is so inspiring to know that I have complete control over my mood, and at any moment I can stop, take a few minutes, and redirect my energy.

I am forever grateful for my teacher in sobriety school for introducing meditation and the concept of slowing down and starting the morning off right. I really did a disservice to myself when I woke up, grabbed my devices, and jumped into the world. Just a half hour or even ten minutes …to be present and set an intention for my day – is a game changer for me.

Of course, you learn things when you’re ready. You just can’t absorb everything all the time. I wouldn’t have been able to absorb this concept 2 years ago. I would have been too tired, too hungover, too worried about whether I was going to drink again or not. There’s no time for present in that environment. There’s no capacity for appreciation- it’s just…survival.

In two days, it will be 18 months since I cut alcohol out of my life. 18 months of learning who I am, facing my past, and learning to appreciate all those beautiful details in life that I use to mute and dull.

In some ways, it feels like I have a ton of experience under my belt, and in other ways I have just touched the surface. I know I have a lot more to learn in life, and the only way I’m going to is if I am clear minded and present.

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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, gratitude, self-care

Be happy – it’s a choice

I am sitting on a beach in the Bahamas right now. I am off work this week, on a last-minute trip that honestly all came together in an amazing way. We had a day’s notice to find pet care over the busiest boarding time of year, to find flights when they are all almost fully booked, and to find a resort with openings…and somehow…someway…we are sitting here in the Bahamas!

There have been a few bumps along the way – and it can be easy to let those bumps ruin the time if I allow them to. I can sit here and complain about the cold eggs or how they have yet to get hubby’s breakfast order right, how they keep trying to give me booze even though I’ve repeatedly said I’m alcohol-free, or how work things keep interrupting my vacation.

I can focus on those things and waste all of my time off OR I can focus on how I didn’t even know I’d be here this time last week, how I’m fortunate to have the ability to literally say “let’s go to the Bahamas tomorrow” and go, how I now have down time to spend with Hubby reconnecting before he starts a new job, and how I am surrounded by booze and dont even want it.

To be honest, if I count the things I can complain about versus the things I can be grateful for – that grateful list will always outshine the complaint list. And yet- that short little complaint list can completely hijack a state of mind if we allow it to. Isn’t that funny?

The thing is, we can find good or bad in every situation. It’s our choice which we decide to focus on. And whatever we spend energy focusing on – will without a doubt – grow and spread.

Today, I choose grateful and happy.

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1 year alcohol-free

Sitting here this morning incredibly grateful. I am at the cabin we were able to buy because I no longer spend money on wine and vodka… the cabin that I have NEVER had a hangover in…the cabin that I have never had a drunken rage-filled argument in…the cabin that I wake up in feeling rested and happy and remember everything from the night before. This cabin is peaceful, beautiful, surrounded by nature and all the details I use to miss out on in life. This cabin represents everything about my new life. It’s my new happy place, and I couldn’t have it if I were still drinking.

I celebrated a year of alcohol-free living on September 19th. Hubby made me pancakes and had roses sent to me! I went to a SMART meeting and got to see some great new sober friends, and then we wrapped up the celebration by going to a Maroon 5 concert.

I look back over the year and am amazed. How did I get here? At first by accident, then with a “what the hell, let’s see how it goes”, and then eventually with a firm commitment to a changed life. I got here because I didn’t drink…even when I wanted to. Sometimes that was easy, and sometimes that was hard as hell. I didn’t drink because I threw the book at it over and over and over again.  I did the lessons, I repeated the mantras, I cried, I sighed, I yelled, I posted, I learned when I needed to, and I just held on when I couldn’t possibly learn anything more. Sometimes I didn’t believe it was possible, and I had to borrow you guys’ strength instead. Thank you for always being there and always offering your support. I am forever grateful.

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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?