A family member just returned from a 9 month military tour overseas. We had the whole gang over to welcome him back. He brought with him a prestigious bottle of red wine from Italy. Everyone gathered around and waited to be poured their share. I kind of hung back and decided now would be a good time to mingle with the little kids. Then I heard my name being called and a glass was being walked over in my direction. Oh god, I thought, he doesn’t know. I didn’t want to have the “I’m not drinking anymore” conversation in front of everyone. I also didn’t want to have a “no thank you” portion of wine (is that even a thing?). So I did what any normal person put on the spot would do. I said I couldn’t have any because I just finished a banana and wine and banana go horrible together. The look of “what the f**k” was priceless. I giggled to myself because it made ZERO sense and yet, it worked! He accepted it and walked back to his table of supporters. I went back to coloring with 4 year olds. In true monkey-see monkey-do fashion they quickly offered me their lemonade. I gave them the same banana excuse. I got the same “what the f**k” looks. Oh well, nobody said it was a bullet proof excuse. Sometimes it just has to be crazy enough that nobody wants to press the issue further.
Living with a newly sober person can be hard. For quite some time, I judged my spouse big time for continuing to drink. I felt superior with my new found superpowers of health and vitality. The better I felt the more I talked about it. “You too could be this amazing if you quit drinking.” I was aggravating and annoying.
The problem here is my spouse has a slue of health problems. Had he not, he probably would have done the whole “that’s nice honey” thing and moved on. But my declarations of liveliness felt like a slap in the face to him. While it is true that a lot of his issues would be reduced if he quit drinking; nobody wants or deserves to have that crammed down their throat every day. When I was drinking I was overlooking his struggles that lead him to drink because I would just drink up with him. That was my way of showing support. When I got sober, I was continuing to overlook his struggles and simplify them all under the “just get sober” label. That was my way of showing support. I thought I had the quickest resolution that would solve it all.
However, depression is real. Anxiety is real. Health issues as a result of depression and anxiety are real. There are a lot of very sober people who struggle with both. I’m learning to put the pom poms down and get to know his struggles. I’m taking time to ask questions and just listen. I know I was obnoxious. Understand, I was whistling past the graveyard. I really wanted this sobriety thing to be the best thing ever. I figured if I cheered loud enough then everyone would join me. The truth is I was scared to death of being alone with sobriety.
The funny thing about sobriety is you learn a lot about who you are. Time and time again I stepped off the wagon. Not because I didn’t enjoy how I felt. Not because I wasn’t feeling in my heart and soul that this was the best thing for me. I just didn’t want to be on that wagon alone. I have a fear of abandonment that rattles my security. I thought I had gotten over that years ago. Yet here it is. Had I not hopped on and off that wagon countless time, I would have never connected the dots on why. Had my supportive and honest husband not pointed out how incorrigible I was being, I may have never looked deeper.
So many lessons. So many beautiful and painful lessons along this journey.
My sobriety came in stages. The first time I quit,, I didn’t think I had a problem at all. I felt like my husband was the one with the drinking problem and I was frustrated that he couldn’t just rein it in. One night were discussing his problem and he said “If quitting is so easy then why don’t you do it?”. That really struck a nerve with me. I immediately felt retracted and defensive. Why should I quit? I’m not the one with the problem. I had been drinking daily, side by side with him, for our entire relationship. I just didn’t consider myself the one with the issue because comparatively he was much worse. After digging in my heels for a few days I decided to quit. I was going to do this and show him it was possible. This was going to bring about real change in him, I thought. Well, I cried for about 10 days straight. I felt like I had lost my best friend (alcohol) and I really didn’t know what to do with myself. With each passing day, which felt like forever, my husband was still drinking as he always had and that just enraged me. He also would point out that I was miserable and wasn’t setting a very good example for sobriety, which compounded all these unstable emotions I was experiencing. I considered it a failed experiment and went back to drinking but that first step planted a seed. If it was so hard for me, maybe I do have a problem?
I quit several times after that. A few times for about 30 days and then another for nearly 6 months. Every time my initial motivation was to change him. But in those sober stints I would notice changes that made me realize I should be doing this for me. I’d notice my sleep was improved. My energy was up. I didn’t carry the same level of anxiety and that looming black cloud would go away. I treated myself and others better. I started to realize that I was the best version of me sober.
It wasn’t until my motivation was to heal myself that sobriety really stuck. Beyond the benefits of sobriety was a field of issues I hadn’t dealt with. I had developed a habit of being sober long enough to enjoy the benefits but pull out once it was time to face the real stuff. The biggest issue for me is my fear of abandonment and how rooted it is in my lack of self confidence. I’m slowly learning to unravel this beast. I’m learning to ask myself what I want rather than ask myself what others might want from me. I’m learning to ask people what they like rather than trying to figure how to get them to like me. I’m learning to lead the way. For the first time, I’m excited to see what I might find. I’m nowhere near perfection but I have my backpack on and am ready for the journey.
My point in all this is it takes time. It takes battle after battle. Lesson after lesson. A willingness to learn and to fail. Take notes. Be patient.
We hear a lot about alcohol. The majority of what we hear is the advertised joy and lightheartedness it brings. Of course, we know it’s not all roses. We also read the news stories of alcohol induced rage, accidents and deaths. It’s the extremes we hear about. The extreme joys. The extreme lows. But what about the in-between? We don’t hear much about that. What about that person that drinks a few pops every night? Maybe a little more on the weekends? What kind of impact is alcohol having on a day to day basis for those people?
Everyone is different and our bodies all react to things differently. However, it is a well-known fact that alcohol hits our nervous system. To what degree depends on age, sex, weight, body chemistry, etc. But it happens. There’s no way around it. It’s also a depressant. Therefore, if you’re drinking regularly you can expect to feel things like general anxiety and depression. So many people walk around with a case of the blues and nervousness and attribute it to who they are. We hear “I’m just high strung” or “I’m just a nervous wreck” all the time. I’m not saying those feeling can’t occur naturally. They can. Life is stressful. But drinking alcohol on a regular basis is known to exacerbate those feelings. It’s a clinical fact. Yet, nobody talks about it. There’s no disclaimer at the end of the Budweiser commercial running down the list of possible side effects. So you know what? I’ll list several for you here. This is not a comprehensive list. If it was it would be pages long.
What’s concerning is how many of us go to the doctor for these symptoms and begin taking medication to help. Most of these medications do not work well with alcohol and could make the problem worse. I know personally I was prescribed Zoloft and Klonopin. It took me years to ween myself off alcohol, Zoloft and Klonopin. I was, as they say, a hot mess. I had no idea that if I just stopped putting these mind altering substances in my body I would be okay. Happy, in fact. At minimum, I am content on most days. If I feel stress, anxiety, nervousness I know exactly where it’s coming from and how to put it in check. They are no longer phantom emotions that I lug around and consider part of my being.
It angers me that we’re fed lies by corporations and even doctors in an effort to feed the pockets of others. We’re suffering and we don’t need to be. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms and have not tried cutting out the booze first, I beg you to try it. If you don’t feel better within 30 days you can slap my ass and call me silly. But I honestly believe you will feel like you have a new lease on life. Life is sunnier sober. I promise. Don’t buy into the lies that it’s not.
It’s been quite a while since I posted last. A lot has changed. Sobriety has a way of doing that. It’s also brought about a lot of peace. Sobriety has a way of doing that too. I’ve been sober for over a year now. It’s become a way of life. I don’t really think of it all that much anymore. I almost find myself at a loss for words about it because struggling with those intense emotions has fallen off. However, I wanted to put this out here to give others hope. I know when I first got sober I was scouring anything I could find on sobriety and success stories. I was anxious to find one that spoke to my soul. I hope this finds its way to touching someone’s soul and gives the motivation to change their lives.
My story: I’m pretty average. I was a reach for the bottle of wine at the end of the day kind of gal. I was the one that brought the wine to the party. I was all things wine. I got pictures of wine for my birthday, my kitchen was full of wine décor, and I was always being tagged in stuff on Facebook relating to wine. In every picture I had a glass of wine in my hand. Eventually though it began to bother me that I wasn’t doing anything with my spare time but drinking wine, talking about wine, or planning the next wine drinking event. The big change came after my 40th birthday party with friends. We went on a group trip to Florida to celebrate. We all had plans to do fun events, see things and explore. In the end all we did was drink and take day naps. There were also some moments I wish so, so deeply I could take back. Times when I was drunk and acted like social norms and boundaries didn’t matter. On the plane ride home I thought, “I’m never drinking again.” I think I was sober a month. That was no small feat. My downfall can essentially be whittled down to an identity crisis. Who was I without wine? It didn’t help that everyone I knew razzed me about it. Looking back, I can’t blame them. They were struggling with figuring out who I was without wine too. I spent a year bouncing between sobriety and drinking. Something had changed inside me and drinking just lost it’s luster, but I wasn’t familiar enough with sobriety to say that was definitely the road I wanted to go down. I tried very hard to be both. I heard, “Make up your mind!” more than once. So eventually I did make up my mind. I chose sobriety.
Today: These days I’m known for my yoga practice, meditation, and photography. I’ve also found a real love for wandering around thrift stores and hoping to find cool items for cheap money. There is a peace about my life that I wouldn’t trade of anything in the world. My friends know me as their sober friend. I still see them but admittedly not as much. It’s okay though. My life is a hundred times more interesting and fulfilling. When I do spend time with friends it’s usually because they want to join me in a trip along to coast to take random photos, or poke around a thrift/antique store and do lunch. I can’t remember the last time I had a nasty fight with my husband and my dog seems happier. I guess he can sense the peaceful change.
My advise: Just stick with it. We live in a very instant world these days but there’s nothing instant about sobriety. No two journey’s are the same. Listen to your heart. People will push back on your sobriety. You will find out who wants to know the sober you and who doesn’t. I’ve heard it said that ones who doesn’t stick around aren’t your real friends. I don’t really subscribe to that thought process. People change and grow apart all the time. It’s a natural part of life. It’s nothing personal. That’s how I’ve found peace with it anyway. The most important and best thing about this is you get to discover who you really are. It’s a very rewarding path to take. Even if you have one day sober and two days drinking. You’re moving towards creating a new habit and that should always be recognized.
After a long day at work I thought it would be a good idea to hop on my stationary bike and go for a 30 minute spin. “Just 30 minutes” I told myself. I had a good list of things I needed to get done in the yard and around the house but I definitely wanted to fit this in. So I got on my bike and set the time for 30 min.
I pushed myself harder than normal. It was a super busy day and I wanted to get rid of all that tension energy. 20 minutes in I was drenched in sweat and my legs felt like Jello. I’m usually a leisure rider with bursts of strong energy. It’s fair to say this ride was killing me. My dog enters the room with his favorite squeaky toy and squeaks it. Cute right? My pint sized cheerleader has arrived. I keep spinning. He reaches up the side of the couch and stretches his body out long while staring at me. I make a comment about how we’re working out together, how fun. I give him a little wink. Then all hell broke loose. My dog LOST his mind. He barked at me quite insistently. At first I thought someone was at the door but then I realized he was barking at me! I asked my little buddy what was wrong? He answered with a sharp, demanding bark. I started asking him questions like he was Lassie and was somehow going to answer me. “Are you out of water? Do you need to go out?”. Each one answered with that sharp, demanding bark. This was getting ridiculous. For a moment I contemplated getting off the bike to see what this was all about. I mean, I only had 5 minutes left. Then it hit me. He was challenging me. He picked up his squeaky toy and got uncomfortably close to the peddles on the bike. It’s as if he was saying “You better get off or you’ll hit me.” Inching closer and closer, squeaking his toy louder and louder, barking more and more. It all hit a fever pitch and I realized I can’t back down. I also can’t get down. I have to stay on this damn bike until this is over. If I get off now he’ll think he owns me and I don’t even want to know what that looks like.
How long could this last right? This is a new behavior for my 10 year old dog. He’s sure to tire out quickly and take a nap, right? THIRTY MINUTES LATER. I cycled for an entire hour! An additional 30 minutes of this Mexican stand off with my dog. But I won, dammit, I won! There was a time in my life when I would have stopped pedaling to find out what he needed. I’d go as far as to say I might have even stayed away from cycling because I didn’t want to deal with the barking. Eventually, I would have felt resentful towards my dog for ‘being a jerk’ and making me feel like I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I would have made myself the victim. It’s moments like that where I realize how far I’ve come. As absurd as the situation was, there was a feeling of pride in not getting off that bike. I wasn’t about to let his neediness at that moment override this time I was taking for myself. I’m not even sure he wanted me to really get off the bike. He just wanted to know where my limit was and I told him. In the end, he curled up in a ball and fell asleep. I hope to see more moments like this in myself. Where I know what I want, I do it, and I don’t let someone knock me off my proverbial bike.
I had a hard time falling asleep last night. My mind raced with ideas of what sober me would to today. I was going to get up early and clean the downstairs, organize a closet, start work a little early, be showered and ready for the day (I work from home so that’s a real feat in and of itself) and blog. I’d like to write every day for a while even if it’s meaningless jibber. Before I knew it was past midnight and I was realizing that my morning energy would be nil if I didn’t get to sleep soon. I somehow managed to fall asleep. I tossed and turned a bit throughout the night. My alarm went off excessively early and I hit my snooze. Actually, I turned it off completely and woke up later than I wanted. Not late, but not early enough to tackle my grandiose list. As I sit here with my coffee I wonder why it was important to try and do so much outside of what I normally do. Am I trying to prove sobriety is better? Am I trying to prove that sober me is much more productive, energetic, and organized? Is the side of me that sleeps in, hits the snooze, rolls out of bed haphazardly and shuffles around a snails pace unacceptable? Or only acceptable when I’ve been drinking?
I did this last time I quit. I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to be better. Recreate a different persona. One that was far removed from the me that drank alcohol. I think this time around I’m going to take it easier on myself which isn’t easy for me. I do want to relax into this and see what person emerges. Not who I think should emerge, but who truly emerges. Maybe it’ll be the same ol me that sleeps in and is totally disorganized. Maybe that’s okay.
There, I said it. As tears well up in my eyes I am overwhelmed with feelings of disappointment, grief, resentment, and I’m sure I could explain my feelings better if this brain of mine wasn’t fogged over from a wretched hangover. I don’t know what to say. I feel like I’ve been lying with my writing. Lying to myself. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I want to start this all fresh. No more lies. No more trying to be something I not. I know where I want to be. I know who I want to be. Today, though, I’m starting with being nobody and working myself out from there. That’s what I need to do. I did do 6 months of sobriety. The space between then and now grows with each passing day. It hurts. I went from being a daily drinker, to a non drinker, to a binge drinker on the weekends. I told myself I could have it both ways. I could be good all week, take care of myself, and then let it all hang out on the weekends. Letting it all hang out means spending time drinking while longing for sobriety, writing notes to myself about how this isn’t working and I don’t enjoy it. Nursing hangovers on Sunday and wishing I was taking full advantage of my weekends and not tossing them away in a bottle. It feels so bipolar. Friday night I was totally sober and had my 7 year old niece over for her very first sleepover. It was so much fun. Saturday I started drinking and didn’t stop. I spent yesterday curled up in ball and still feel like I want to lay around not move. When did I become such a lush? I read in someone’s blog recently that when you go back to drinking you don’t start over. You pick up where you left off. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I went from being someone who drank a “controlled” amount every night for years to someone who is sober all week and gets bombed on the weekends. I used to hate being drunk. Now I spend my weekends in hazy stupor and I’m not enjoying it one bit. I’ve come to realize that drinking daily is simply not an option. Binge drinking like this is totally out of the question. I can’t keep on. It’s fair to say I’m officially tried every way to possible to fit drinking into my life and it’s not working. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t. The mental game alone is exhausting.
So I give. Here I am. Day two. It feels like day zero because I swear I’m still hungover from Saturday. Gross. I need this blog. I need to write. I need to be honest and raw. And I need you. Whoever you are. My other friends that are on this journey. Sobriety can be such a wonderfully lonely place. I’m hoping I can do it again, only with more truth, more vulnerability, and more balance. I want it more than anything.
~ With Humbleness and Humility
I’m a facts kind of a gal. I like to dig into the who, what, how, where, when and why about everything from the food I eat to the reason green clashes with my skin tone. For the life of me, I find it nearly impossible to find any articles on sobriety that tote the true health benefits of it and how. *Cough* Big alcohol strikes again.
Ya, sure, okay there are Cosmo and Elle articles that say you shouldn’t drink a bottle of wine a night because your waistline will grow. I’m not talking about those. I mean articles that are easy to read and understand that explain why people are so much happier and prettier sober. Not medical journals from http://www.ifyoupassedchemistryyoumightunderstandthis.com. Just easy to read articles on why. So, my friends, I have taken little pieces here and there that I have found along the way and complied them for you here. Let’s start with the vain stuff since we’re all vain at heart. “You’re so vain. I bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you? Don’t youuuuu?”.
Q: Why are the whites of my eyes so bright? Visine can’t even touch this.
Alcohol dilates the small veins in your eyes causing them to leak. It also inflames the hell out of blood vessels in your eyes so they expand and are easier for everyone to see. I don’t know about you guys, but leaky eye balls should be on the warning label of every alcohol container.
Q: Why is my skin tone so much more even?
Alcohol makes it so that your poor brain loses control over its ability to regulate vascular function. It basically says “I can’t worry about your blood flow right know, I need to get this poison out of your blood”. Next thing you know, you have a rush of blood hit your face and neck and you look like a lovely red tomato. Who doesn’t like that look? *Raises hand* I don’t.
Why was my face so fat when I drank? My head looked ten times bigger than my body.
Your body knows when you’re dehydrated. When you show signs of dehydration your body makes it so you don’t pee. It wants to hold on to all the fluid it can, right? Well, alcohol not only makes it so that your body can’t tell if you’re dehydrated but it also makes you pee…a lot. As a result, the tissues in your face swell as they beg for mercy. Voila! Fat face.
Alright folks, that’s it for this evening. Rest well knowing your eyes are no longer leaking, your blood is flowing at it’s maximum potential, and the tissues in your face are soft and peaceful.
~ Namaste bitches!
Q. Why does a codependent buy two copies of every self-help book?
A: One to read and one to pass on to someone who really needs it.
Q. What does a codependent have in common with God?
A. They both have a plan for your life.
In one of my last posts I wrote: I feel like I’m just unraveling everywhere. I’m thankful to be sober and at the same time I have this thought “Since you can’t change anything for 7-8 months you can just drink until then.”
Well, I did unravel everywhere. Full out mental breakdown. Then it hit me. I don’t have to wait 7-8 months. I can change now. My husband and I had a heart to heart and both felt we were ready for a wholesale change immediately. So we moved. We’re in a new state, in a new home. It’s very peaceful here. Sobriety feels different here. It’s calming. I mean, it always was a good thing but so often I felt like I was pressing up against something unnatural. I assumed it was being sober that was awkward but it was really the struggle to normalize my extremely dysfunctional circumstances. I know I’m being vague but if I detailed my life here I’d have to write a novel. Long story short: I compromised my own happiness because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do in order to be a good person. I got the idea in my head that being selfish was bad, and that thinking of myself first was bad. I gave and gave until I didn’t have any more to give. My giving lead to enabling. Enabling lead to resentment. Resentment lead to a horrible attitude about giving anything to anybody. I found myself in corner wanting nothing more than to be left alone. My lesson learned is that giving is good as long as it’s not taking away from me. I still have some loose ends back home that I need to tidy up but I feel that’s best done from a distance. And at this stage in my life, if it feels best for me then that’s what I’m going to do. I trust me enough to know that my wants and desires are not unreasonable, neither are my ‘don’t wants and don’t desires’.
So with that friends, here I am. I have sobriety and peace in my heart. I can’t think of anything much better than that. For anyone struggling with co-dependency I highly recommend the book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. If you don’t know what codependency is just Google it. I firmly believe this book changed my way of thinking and possibly saved my life.
I will be trying out the local yoga studio here in hopes to make some new friends. Oh, and my twin brother and niece, who was also born on our birthday, live in this area. It’s been a joy to see them. I’ll be dressing up as Slimer for Halloween since my niece wants to be a Ghostbuster. My brother will be the State Marshmallow Puff. I’ll be sure to post a pic for you guys!
~ Namaste Bitches 🙂