Posted in acceptance, motivation, recovery, self-care

Being Judgemental

Good morning everyone! Is it possible to meditate TOO early? I swear, I was practically falling back asleep during my meditation this morning. Today’s meditation was all about being non-judgemental. Is it ironic that it is also the meditation I could barely stay on track on, and I so much wanted to judge it poorly lol.

This topic reminds me of one of the mantras from sobriety school…”I am not here to judge other people’s process. I am driving my own bus”. That mantra is such a good reminder. (It comes from Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is” – which I will add to my ever growing list of what one day I should read but will probably only buy and then never actually read…because that’s what I do…collect unread Kindle books).

We all have so much going on in our lives. Honestly, we don’t have time to judge everyone else. All the time and effort spent thinking about other people’s situations, what they should or shouldn’t do, how I would do it differently…it is all a waste of time. During that time, I could be focusing on my own improvements. I could be using that energy for good. Spending time judging others, is stealing time from myself. Plus how many times have I judged something I’ve never even been through…only later to go through it and totally understand what I judged? Too many times. Honestly, we are all just trying to do the best we can, with what we know at that time.

Have you ever noticed how judging others really makes you feel shitty inside? Sure, sometimes it makes you feel good temporarily…a fake good…like, “oh I’m so much better at xyz” … That’s really just some sort of fake self-approval. I quit drinking to stop all the fake in my life. Ya know…the fake fun, fake social, fake relaxation that we think alcohol gives us. So that includes giving myself quick-fixes of self righteousness. Although man, can that be a hard habit to break -especially when I’m over here self-improving my ass off. It’s hard not to compare and fall into that trap of suddenly knowing it all and being better.

While on the other hand, being proud of others or being loving and compassionate – now that is a real dose of goodness. If I’m taking the focus off of myself and my self-improvement – then that is where I should be…in that sweet spot of love and compassion. Where being judgemental is a quick fix for me and nothing good for you, being loving and compassionate is hands down a win-win for us both!

I guess where I am going with all of this…is that we are all on these journeys…trying new things, learning from mistakes, and we should give each other a break. We have our own busses to drive…and if everyone keeps getting out of their bus to try and drive other people’s busses… well that’s just a massive accident waiting to happen! We need to remember that the important part of life is living it…and if we are judging others, we aren’t living our own life. And if we are trying to intervene in others’ lives – telling them what to do or how to do it – we aren’t letting them live theirs either.

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.

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 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.
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 Uncategorized

To Beach or Not To Beach… Vacation Prep

I am headed on vacation next week and am very excited! I am also a little nervous! Although I have vacationed since giving up hooch, I haven’t been to this particular place since then. It’s a beach destination. I grew up LOVING the beach. (Honestly, every bit that makes up who I am has a little bit of beach in it)! And although I spent my early years creating non-drinking memories of the beach, I also spent… oh… at least 20 years associating the beach with alcohol.

Since getting sober, I’ve learned that a lot of things are really different sober vs. drinking. Some things that I thought I loved were actually just backdrops for drinking. And other things that I didn’t think I liked at all… are actually really fun now that I’m able to be present for it! I think maybe… just maybe… part of me is scared that I won’t love the beach anymore… that I’ll learn I never really loved the beach… that I just loved drinking at the beach. And if that were true?? Well, would that mean I just discovered another big piece of fiction about myself?! I just can’t even bare to think that a major part of my identity could be another falsehood!

I can’t necessarily do anything about the “what if” part of if I like the beach or not, but I CAN prepare for this vacation and make sure that my sobriety is at as little risk as possible before I go. I have found that preparation before a trip or event can make ALL the difference. The more I think about things beforehand, the less I have to think while I’m there. And isn’t that the whole point of the vacation – to stop having to think so much and so hard?!

Thanks to the help of my support groups, Hip Sobriety School, and my amazing planning talents (drum roll…ta da! Here is Super Planning Girl! No… that doesn’t sound like a very good super hero after all), here is my plan of attack for…er…planning:

Planning:

  • Why do I want to go? what do I want to do or achieve?
  • What triggers do I anticipate? What other tricky situations might come up?
  • What will I say if asked about drinking? What will I order instead of alcohol?
  • What will be my go-to tools during the trip?
  • What routines/exercises will I do to keep me grounded and secure?
  • What is my exit plan when in an uncomfortable situation?
  • What is my plan if an urgent situation (sober-risk ) occurs?

Travel Partner(s):

  • What do I need to let my travel partner(s) know about this trip related to my sobriety?
  • How do I want my travel partner(s) to support me?
  • What can I ask of my travel partner(s) that will aid me?
  • Is there anything related to my travel partner(s) that I should prepare for?

Visualization:

  • Show my brain what right looks like -visualize the event as detailed as possible- What am I doing, what are the sounds/sights/smells around me, what am I wearing, and what’s going on around me? Envision how I will answer questions about drinking, what it looks like to order non-alcoholic drinks, and what it looks like to have a good time without drinking.
  • Show my brain what right feels like -feel the feels- how do I want to feel during the event? Visualize myself feeling happiness, serenity, presence. How does it feel to be sober, fully aware, clear-headed, and rested?

Meditation:

  • Use Simple Habit or other meditation apps before and during trip

Reinforcement/Reward:

  • What will I do during and after to celebrate my successes and reinforce my positive sober experience?
Posted in Uncategorized

My Sobriety Journey: 0-7 Months

When I first quit smoking, the support group I used did a great job of outlining what happens to the body over time after quitting. I found that motivational when going through the cravings and other hard stuff early in the quit. I haven’t been able to find something similar for stopping drinking. Maybe it’s radically different person-to-person when it comes to the physical changes. Or maybe the physical changes are not as big? If any of you reading this blog know of any sources like that– I’d love to hear about it.

There were some common threads among myself and other members in my sobriety school, so I thought I’d outline some of the things I experienced.  Quitting drinking is a bit different for everyone – we all have different lives and have different support and tools at different times, but we all do seem to go through similar feelings throughout the start.

If you’re thinking of quitting and want to know what you’re getting into, or if you’ve quit but are wondering if what you’re going through “is normal”, maybe this list will help.

 My Timeline

Day 0: hungover, exhausted, sick and tired of saying I won’t do it again but still doing it again, hopeless, full of doubt and fear, high anxiety, signed up for Hip Sobriety School

Day 1: anxious, scared but mixed with hopefulness, weight lifted from me because I’ve decided to stop the insanity, physically exhausted

Week 1: exhausted, trouble sleeping, moody, unable to keep still, battling cravings, still hopeful, grateful for sobriety

Week 2: sleeping a lot, still battling cravings and witching hours but using tools to face them and get past them, drinking dreams begin, still hopeful and grateful for sobriety, started reading Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind

Week 3: the “new and shiny” part of sobriety is starting to wear off, the reality of the hard work to stay sober hits me in the face, old thinking is creeping in (starting to question if I really have a problem and if drinking was really that bad), facing boredom for the first time, life feels bland, extremely cranky

Week 4: continuing to do the work, know that my mind is doing anything/everything it can to get me to go back to my old ways, exhausted but learning new ways to tackle old thinking, learning to fill time with new activities to overcome boredom, starting to face the world and be out and around drinking, facing “firsts” successfully, starting to see drinking differently than before, extremely grateful for my new life, starting to recognize how beautiful life really is and how much I’ve missed by drinking, cravings reducing, several days in a row pass without thinking of alcohol

Week 5: overall anxiety lessens, ability to handle stress increases, ability to think through problems seems to improve, starting to experience “seconds” and realizing that things are getting easier because I’ve successfully conquered “firsts”, seeing that it’s hard work but it gets easier with repetition and preparedness, thoughts of drinking dramatically decreased

Week 6: continued improvement, starting to face “the hard stuff” – the “what made me drink” stuff, starting to see how much more I could have lost, questioning if I really deserve what I have after almost throwing it all away, drinking dreams ramp up, dreams of the past begin, lots of emotions come up as past memories and traumas come up, thoughts of drinking coming up as I work through difficult emotions

Weeks 7-12: more happiness than sadness, alternating between working on past issues and taking breaks to just be happy with new life, increased energy, normalized sleeping, overall gratitude for new life, rarely thinking about drinking but occasionally getting caught off guard with triggers, still needing to remind myself of what’s at risk, started Annie Grace’s 30 Day Alcohol Experiment

4 Months: feeling “clunky” as I try new things, learning that I avoided a lot of life by drinking and that I have a lot of things to catch up on, figuring out how to socialize sober, rarely think of drinking, still working through lots of “firsts” and still need to prepare for each and every one of them, still grateful for sobriety but it no longer feels new – it’s part of who I am now, starting to see financial benefits from not drinking

7 Months: spending less time focused just on being sober and more time on day-to-day life, starting to figure out how to incorporate sobriety into normal daily life, learning how to manage energy and face normal day-to-day stress without turning to alcohol, still working through “firsts”, learning to re-frame old memories and see how much better they’d be if drinking wasn’t a part of them.

As I write this post, today marks 7 months for me! 7 months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night, half drunk and half hungover, and clicked on an email to join Hip Sobriety School. In some ways, it feels like barely any time has passed at all.  In other ways, it feels like lifetimes have passed. While there was a lot of hard work to get here and there have certainly been ups and downs, I can honestly say that life has NEVER BEEN BETTER. When I do things, I am fully present and appreciate all the little things that I use to miss completely.  When I say things, I mean them.  When I feel things, I REALLY feel them.  It’s all about the little things now – all the little details that got completely muted with wine – watching my husband’s face fill with joy when he is about to go fishing, seeing my dog sniff the air with excitement when he’s about to go on a walk, really getting to know people instead of just having small talk.  There is SO MUCH MORE to life than what I use to experience. I wouldn’t trade this for anything!