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Burnout

Yesterday I found myself in a crazy space I haven’t really been in before. I had so much to get done and had the day meticulously planned – to the minute – on how to get it all done. I’ve been there a million times before. In fact, I use to say that I thrived in that environment – running back and forth project to project, juggling multiple ideas all at once. I am quite talented at taking a complex problem, breaking it into little pieces, and executing flawlessly.

But….Not…Yesterday!

Yesterday, I couldn’t decide where to start. Yesterday, I couldn’t remember where I left off on any project. Yesterday, I thought I lost my spark!  I hate yesterday! Yesterday almost won, but guess what? Yesterday can suck it!

This morning I was thinking more and more about what happened.  My work hasn’t changed.  I know that sobriety has made me feel all the feels, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping my energy in check and doing the lemon water, bubble bath, meditation, stuff… so, what the fuck? Then it hit me.  Sure, my work hasn’t changed, but when I drank, there were at least two days a week where I was hungover and unable to dive into my work right away.  I’d waste entire mornings (sometimes even entire days) getting back on my feet.  Back then, I probably would have drank heavily before a busy day like yesterday (because I thought that was a way to relax before a busy day).  Then I would have drank WAY too much wine (doing the exact opposite to my body than relaxing), and I’d have woken up hungover. Then, I’d look at that busy-ass schedule and say “Well, guess that’s not gonna happen today”, and I’d proceed to nurture my hangover.  Every week I had at least one or two mornings like that.  Every week, I found it completely acceptable to blow off work for self-care because “I needed it” – never mind that it was self-induced.

Now fast forward to 6ish months sober.  Except for pre-planned time off, I don’t have any of those “fuck off” days where I have no choice but to blow off work and take care of myself.  I can’t even imagine looking at my busy schedule and saying, “fuck it, push everything on my calendar by a day”. I just can’t!  So now I see the problem!  Sure, I am managing my energy, doing my lemon water and bubble baths, loving my sober life – but my schedule is completely unrealistic as a sober person.  I overbooked myself before, but I probably only actually did 75% of what I booked.  I probably HAD to overbook myself just to get myself to do that 75%! But now, now I’m overbooked but trying to do ALL of it!

Yesterday wasn’t some fit of craziness – yesterday was actually filled with true signs of major burnout! Six months of an overbooked schedule with no “excuses” to FORCE me to stop.  Sure, I took a two week vacation – but if you come right back from vacation and keep doing what caused you to need the vacation – what good is that?!  I thought I was a fantastic consultant back when I drank. I even joked “If this is me at 50%, imagine what I’d be like at 100%”!  And sure, I want to be better than when I was a drinker, but do I really need to hold myself to such a high standard that I run myself into the ground?  One of the top threats to sobriety is stress – and while I feel pretty stable in my sobriety, I think that’s one of those things that can really creep up if we don’t keep it in check!

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Balancing Act

Managing energy is a really important part of recovery. Productive, workaholic, perfectionist professionals (who me?!) especially fall into the trap of go-go-go all day long, then pour a glass of wine to slow-slow-slow for the evening. That, over time, is what develops the “witching hour” -which will be that first obstacle in trying to cut down or cut out drinking. I remember the first few times I woke up and felt pretty crappy after too many glasses of wine. “Oh man, never again! I won’t drink tonight for sure”! Then I’d run off to work…where I put out all the fires…managed all the divas…catered to all the special snowflakes….ALL. DAY. LONG. Then I fought through rush hour traffic to get back home, and then I felt… exhausted…and… just… couldn’t… turn off ….my brain! “I know I said I wouldn’t drink today, but the thing is, I didn’t know how bad today was going to be. OBVIOUSLY a glass is ok after today“! And there, my friends, is how it all begins. Also, how it continues….over and over and over.

So, when you give that all up…when you say enough is enough…that particular cycle is so very important to break immediately! In the sobriety school I attended, they focused quite a lot on that. At the time, I was all “How the fuck is lemon water or bubble baths gonna make wine cravings easier”? But guess what? It just does! And then I was like “I’m all stable now and don’t need to worry about that hippie, lovey, self-care stuff anymore”! But guess what? I still do!

It’s been a little over 6 months, and I have learned how to ease my way into my day, how to take small few-minute breaks throughout the day to recoup, how to balance myself to avoid those peaks that exhaust me (and inevitably make me think of having wine to slow down), and yet today I found myself completely and utterly exhausted. I was basically a temper-tantrum-throwing, snotty, 2 year old on the inside, screaming “me me me me”!!!! The thing is, I didn’t recognize that I had been depleting my daily energy really quickly all week, that I’ve been basically starting my days with an energy deficit and then wondering why my patience is running out super early each afternoon. But I’ve been doing all the hippie, lovey, self-care stuff – so what gives?! Well, what I hadn’t considered is that sometimes, it takes more to fill back up than other times. Like, say I’m a car, and I drive once a week. Now say this week, I drive every single day. I’m going to need more gas this week than last week, right? So in this not-so-creative scenario…the driving is my go-go-go and the gas is the.. lemons and bubbles (heh)! It sounds pretty simple when I put it like that, but believe me… it’s not always easy to see it in the moment.

I need to remember to work hard, but not to the point of exhaustion and depletion. But sometimes I don’t completely control that, right? Sometimes, that needy client just doesn’t care that it’s Meditate’o’clock or that my energy resource bar is blinking and running low! So when I have to use up all that gas that I normally don’t have to use up, I need to remember to give myself extra fuel. Maybe lemons and bubbles aren’t gonna cut it – maybe I need a chick flick, warm and fuzzy pajamas, a nap, and a hug! Whatever it is – I need to remember to get what I need, when I need it …or pay the price tenfold later.

We all have schedules, responsibilities, people taking up pieces of the pie – so it can be so easy to say “I’ve got too much going on. Today, I will skip the hippie, lovey, self-care stuff”. When in reality, those are the days we actually need that stuff the most! If I’ve got so much going on that I think I need to cut things out, I can guarantee I’m probably already sleeping less, eating unbalanced, and dealing with people that test my patience. If I want to survive that gracefully, I need to break out the lemons, the meditation, the tea, the what-the-fuck-ever-makes-me-happy stuff… and even if I only have a minute to spare, that’s a minute worth sparing on ME because it pays off for EVERYONE around me!

So ok, I forgot all this stuff and became a snappy, crabby, bitch. I am new to this stuff and still figuring it all out! At least I recognized it and can course-correct now. What’s important is seeing it and doing something about it -so that one day, when all the shitty stuff hits the Roomba…I’ve already practiced enough self-care to be able to take it in stride and quickly move forward!

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Where’s the shame in that?!

Just back from a two week vacation and getting ready for the real world again. During vacation, I celebrated 6 months being alcohol-free! I shared with one of my sober groups that I had been feeling really disconnected from my sobriety – as if most of my latest sobriety was by luck and not on-purpose.  The thing is – I have been doing this sobriety thing – not drinking, working through an 8 week workshop, being involved in several online sober groups, reading This Naked Mind, joining the 30 day Alcohol Experiment – I have been doing all of that and yet I still sometimes feel lost. Sure, part of it is because this is all new to me, but could the other part be because I’ve been hiding it all? I mean, “sober me” is basically a secret identity that only me, my hubby, and my sober groups know. Sobriety is basically some secret thing that I do when there’s down time or when it won’t be in anyone’s way. It is basically something I “fit in” in between life’s events. I think I’ve been stuck trying to “live my normal life” while adding in a dash of sobriety, but isn’t my “normal life” what got me drinking to begin with? Maybe it’s time to live my new life! Maybe it’s time to let go of who I thought I was, accept who I really am, and become who I know I can be!

Now, I’m not saying I need to “out myself” to the world or run around being Super Sober Girl or anything (side note – wouldn’t that be an interesting super hero), but I need to find a way for it to BE me and ME not be secretly ashamed of it. I started this path because I thought I could learn to moderate or drink less. Holly’s workshop was perfect because she gave us permission to just try new things and learn -with no labels, judgement, or forever-commitments. A brief time in, I realized life was better sober and I wanted it for good…but I didn’t want to have to label myself, or “have a disease”, or be that person who was different from everyone else, or be forced to do something for the rest of my life. I still don’t want that, but the thing is…I don’t actually think that has anything to do with me anyways. It’s not that I don’t want it to be “a thing”, it’s that I don’t want it to be a thing to everyone else. So here I am – doing something really healthy and amazing, feeling really great about it, choosing it as a way of life because I love it, and it’s all the warm and fuzzy things that it is – but I’m afraid of how I will be judged.

Isn’t it actually sad that so many of us walk around worried about judgement when in reality we had something going on in our life that we wanted to change, and we changed it?  That’s AMAZING! That’s AWESOME! That’s a GOOD FUCKING THING! Where’s the shame in that?!  Isn’t it actually sad that so many of us find ourselves in situations we weren’t expecting to be in and we’re too afraid of judgement to reach out for help and move forward in our lives?  Don’t you think that’s why problems get as bad as they do – because we have to hide our problems and keep them secret while we try to figure them all out by ourselves? You can’t tell me that every single person hasn’t, at some point in their life, had something they wanted to do differently. Self-improvement is self-improvement. We all have things we need to work on. We all have things we can do differently. Sure, some may be a fuck ton harder than others. Sure, some may require a longer commitment. Some people may have A LOT of little things and some people may have one giant thing…but the one thing that is certain is that we all have things to deal with! There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to making your life better, and I need to start remembering that.

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Was it really that bad?

I feel like I’m losing my way a bit. While I know I am happy being alcohol free for 75 days now…and I know that alcohol doesn’t relax me or solve any problems…I think I’m forgetting WHY it was so bad for me. I keep seeing people out drinking and having that sloppy version of fun, and it still looks good to me. I find myself saying “would it really be that bad”…it still looks fun to me and even if it’s a chemical-fake fun, it felt fun when I did it. I guess I’m going through a “why can’t I just moderate” phase. Why do I have to be different than everyone else I know? Why can they drink and have “fake fun” and then wake up perfectly fine and go about their lives with no real issue?

I went into this thinking I’d quit drinking for good…but I guess I thought I’d be happier about it. I WAS very happy about it for most of the time, but now that I’m hanging out in situations with people drinking – it is getting harder. And when I try to talk to people about it – it’s clear they don’t completely get it. I’ll point out some fucked up thing about alcohol, and they will respond with something that makes it so clear that I am just different from them…they can take it or leave it and they don’t have those problems like me.

I guess I’m stuck because I didn’t want getting sober to be “a thing”. I didn’t want it to be some life long thing I had to do. But it is, right? I mean – am I ever not going to drink and not care when I’m surrounded by everyone else that still drinks? I guess I just have to come to the realization that even if I don’t want to label myself or “have a problem”…I do have a fucking problem.

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Bland before Beautiful

I seem to be trying like hell to find some “way” to achieve numbness without alcohol. The first two weeks, I was in a newly-sober-high and I CAN’T GET IT BACK. “Normal” feels SO BLAND. I am so easily offended, cranky, and judgmental beyond belief right now. I keep drinking kava tea, seltzer water, taking bubble baths…trying to drown that little voice who is like “numb…I want numb”.

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Gratitude

I think the first two weeks of sobriety felt really “new and shiny” and motivating. I am finding it harder to feel as grateful and happy about it, now. Maybe I’m forgetting WHY I quit…why alcohol sucks…why I’m better without it.

As always, today’s mantra is spot on, and I will just repeat it until it sinks in.

GRATITUDE IS MY ATTITUDE TODAY.

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Herbal tea

One of my toolkit items is “clean or organize something at home” and another is “drink herbal tea”. This is a picture of me using my toolkit – this cabinet use to be full of wine glasses, beer mugs, and other alcohol paraphernalia!