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 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, 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.

Posted in addiction, recovery, sobriety, social anxiety

Thankfully Sober

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! Today is day 1 of our vacation! Me and Hubby are celebrating our 3rd year of marriage this week! It is hard to believe I have been sober for A THIRD of our marriage! It’s harder to believe that I drank for TWO THIRDS! I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! I am thankful I found Hip Sobriety and This Naked Mind when I did. To be honest, who knows how much Hubby would have put up with if I hadn’t! I am thankful that he stood by my side while I found my way! A lot of people in my life didn’t.

I’ve been thinking about addiction and mental health a lot lately. I didn’t choose to have debilitating anxiety and when people learn about it – they dont blame me at all. I also didnt choose to become addicted to alcohol. In fact, I had been taught that only “some people” become addicted to alcohol -so I had no reason to believe it would be me, but it did happen to me.

When you hear people talk about addiction – they always blame the addict, not the product that hooked them. We as a society drink…everywhere… all the time. We drink to celebrate. We drink to loosen up. We drink to be social. We drink to have fun. We drink to unwind. We encourage everyone to drink, and tell people they are no fun if they dont. Then when one of us becomes unknowingly and unwantingly addicted…we shun them. We shame them. We blame them. That makes it nearly impossible to ask for help.

No one sets out to be addicted. No one wants to crave a product that no longer serves the purpose it use to. No one wants to be unable to control their use. No one wants to physically become dependent on a chemical that changes their brain and body for the worse. Everyone just wants to be happy and cope with life the best they can.

We are told that alcohol is a great tool, and then it betrays us…and then everyone blames the drinker, not the addictive drink?! I guess that’s how the world use to feel about smoking. Funny how we finally see nicotine for what it is – but dont see the similarities to alcohol.

Well anyways, this is all to say – that even in a world full of drinkers…that may never truly understand me…I am thankful to not be a drinker. I’d rather be misunderstood and living this amazing, new, and shiny life…than be bonding over a fake chemical reaction from booze.

For anyone struggling with addiction, or having a hard time being sober in this crazy booze-soaked world….it gets better and it IS worth it. YOU ARE WORTH IT. I know how hard the holidays can be when active in an addiction. While it isn’t your fault that you are addicted, you are the one who needs to reach out to get help. If not now, then when? There are options and people to turn to: Smart recovery, Refuge recovery, AA, Hip Sobriety School, and This Naked Mind are just a few to get you started. Hang in there and know you are not alone.
Posted in self-care, sobriety, social anxiety

Two Social Weekends Over!

Good morning, everyone! It’s 8am and hubby has left to go fishing. I am sitting in my happy place with a lap full of dog and one of my favorite views. The minute we stepped in the cabin yesterday, I could feel all of the icky, stressful week just melt off of me. This is totally my sanctuary.

The last two weekends, we had visitors. The first weekend was Jan and Bob (who I wrote about last time) and then the next weekend were two important friends of my husband (who I had never met).

I went back and forth about how I felt about having visitors at the cabin. This cabin is half paid for with the money I use to spend on wine & vodka. This cabin represents so much about my sobriety and my new focus on self care. Did I really want to share it with family that stresses me out or with strangers? And what about alcohol? This cabin has never had a drop of alcohol in it (at least since we bought it). Its never had a hangover in it. Would someone drinking in my sober sanctuary ruin it? Some friends counseled me to forbid alcohol in the cabin, but then I’d have to tell them about my reasons for not drinking – and tbh, that is not something I share with just anyone. Some friends said we should just skip the cabin, and I considered that too, but even though Jan and Bob drive me insane…I also really wanted them to see the cabin. For some reason, I am forever trying to show them I turned out an ok adult.

So anyways, we did the cabin thing with both sets of visitors. With Bob and Jan, it was really tight quarters. They brought SO MUCH STUFF to a 700 square foot cabin! That’s totally “them”…go visit people and be as inconsiderate as possible. They didn’t drink at all the entire weekend, though. It was a surprise to me because literally every photo they post is a photo of alcohol. Alcohol is heavily intertwined in their reality. I don’t know if they just don’t enjoy drinking around non-drinkers or if they are trying to be respectful. They just know we don’t drink, not my situation. Honestly, most people think we don’t drink because hubby can’t drink on his medication. And while that’s true that he can’t – the reality is…I don’t drink because me and alcohol have had a 20 year abusive relationship, and hubby doesn’t drink because he is supporting me. The weekend with Bob and Jan was tough. I was pretty tired and was happy to reenergize after they left.

The next weekend with hubby’s friends – let’s call them Mike and Wendy – was AMAZING. I thought it would be difficult. I was going to be alone with Wendy the entire day while hubby and Mike went fishing. I imagined my social anxiety running the entire day. I thought of every single way I could fuck up the day. I imagined saying all the wrong things – or even worse – sitting around in that horribly uncomfortable silence that always leads me to bring up the strangest topics out of desperation. “Isnt it weird how socks have such an annoying hem right on the toe”? Seriously – 42 years and I haven’t come up with a list of NORMAL topics for this situation yet?!

All that worry and stress and yet the day was perfect! Me and Wendy went to the spa, then shopped, and then talked for hours. And we talked about politics, race, immigration – any “off topic” topic for talking to strangers…we talked about it! It felt so good to have a conversation with someone I was aligned with. That’s rare where I live. But get this…Wendy brought wine to the cabin! Fucking wine! Ugh! But honestly, it was fine. Since I told her I didnt drink, she just put it away until dinner time. At dinner, her and her hubby killed the bottle pretty fast. I could see her eyes glaze over just halfway into her first glass. I saw the fast drinking and the heavy pour…and I wondered if she doesn’t have even more in common with me…but who knows.

It’s funny how different the two weekends were. I had family with me one weekend – and I was stressed, tired, and felt tortured. Then I had perfect strangers with me another weekend and had the best time. We didn’t feel crowded in the small cabin and it just felt relaxing and good. That’s the thing about social anxiety – you prepare for all the potential terrors, but rarely do they come true. I almost always come out feeling completely different than I go into it. I wish I could get my logical self to explain that to my irrational self!

Happy Fall! It is really beautiful today, and I have two dreaded social weekends over and behind me!