Still here…

Just a brief heads up that I’m still here and still sober!  Today is day 189.  I can’t believe I’ve passed the 6 month mark!  So much has changed that it’s hard for me to even remember my drunk life (even though it lasted more than 10 years).  It’s funny, I think, how that happens.  How we can change our lives so much that years ago seem like an entirely different lifetime.  Being in high school was a different life, my first marriage, my second husband’s deployment, my college years, my before-kids life…all different people living different lives.  And here I am…6 months into the best one yet–my sober life.

I remember before I stopped drinking, thinking about how I should probably stop drinking.  I would get so angry at my kids.  All.  The.  Time.  Mostly it was because they wouldn’t hurry up fast enough so I could get my first glass of merlot.  Hurry–take a bath.  Hurry–get dressed.  Hurry–get in bed and go to sleep.  Hurry–get up and get in the car before the store closes and I can’t get any more alcohol tonight.  Hurry up and let your life pass by while I stay passed out on the couch.

I think I’m finally starting to feel some of the guilt that I kept suppressed for my own emotional well-being.  I have sat down with my kids to read them a book or watch a movie or talk with them and thought about how none of that was possible while I was drinking.  How distant I was.  They would ask me to spend time with them and I was annoyed because I was only focused on pouring more poison into my body.  I think about the times I drove them around when I was clearly too intoxicated to do so.  And now I feel shame.  Guilt.  I am so blessed and so grateful that one of those nights didn’t destroy my world.  That I got to keep everything that means anything to me, even though I risked it frequently.  There are people more deserving of me who haven’t been so lucky.

I am reading a book that has been helping about that.  It is titled Uncensored Grace:  Stories of Hope From The Streets of Vegas by Jud Wilhite and Bill Taffe.  It discusses people at a Church in Vegas who were horribly broken and full of sin.  It tells their stories and how they found grace even in the darkest parts of their lives.  The big reminder is that you can ALWAYS start over.  You can erase the past and you can’t undo what has been done, but every day is a new chance to start fresh.  There are people who have it worse than me and, as a counselor, I give them hope and faith that they can turn things around.  I need to believe the same is also possible for myself and my own life.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop in real fast to let anyone who is interested know that I’m doing great.  I am going to the beach with my boyfriend and the kids tomorrow so I’ll be happily off the chart for a couple of days at least.  We just got back from DC two weeks ago where we had an amazing time.  It’s nice to wrap up the summer with these short but relaxing trips.  🙂

Oh, I also ran a 6K back in July.  I got 2nd place in my age division.  The race was called “Heroes in Recovery” and was to reduce the stigma against mental health and substance abuse treatment.  🙂

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Doing Life Sober

I realized yesterday that it’s been quite a minute since I’ve posted on the blog.  This doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about my recovery daily and there have been many times that I wanted to share some of my thoughts regarding my sobriety.  The truth is, I’ve been extremely busy, which is great for those of us newly sober (although not so new anymore…day 132 today!).  Here’s a little update of what’s been happening in my sober life.

I have talked to my mom several times about my sobriety, most recently last week.  I am grateful that she has been very understanding and accepting of my newly accepted status as a recovering alcoholic.  She believes and understands that I have a disease that I cannot control that needs to be managed on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.  She must have told other members of my family because I recently had a joint birthday gathering with my uncle and my aunt bought him a bottle of wine but gave me some jewelry.  This aunt knows that normally I would have loved a bottle of booze but she didn’t choose that as a gift.  I suspect my mom had something to do with that decision.  My mom has offered up support, prayers and encouragement in my sober journey and it means everything to me.

My boyfriend has also been exponentially supportive.  He refuses to drink in my presence and will decline the offer for cocktails on our behalf when necessary stating “we don’t drink”.  Not “she doesn’t drink”.  But WE don’t.  People look at us like we have three heads but it doesn’t bother him.  He encourages me when I reach milestones and does whatever he can to make sure I can attend meetings.  He is kind to me when I don’t feel like cooking or cleaning, he tries to avoid fights or arguments when he can and he helps out with the house and the kids.  He tries very hard to understand what I am going through and learn as much as he can.

 

I am finally starting to deal with some things from my past and in my present.  One such item is my pending divorce.  As I’ve mentioned before, when we were together, we were drinking.  When I left it was mostly a feeling of relief but over time that relief has started to turn into anxiety.  I keep thinking about my kids growing up in a broken home and how maybe it would have been different if we weren’t drinking.  According to him, he is no longer drinking (not sure if I believe that, but for the sake of argument let’s say that’s true).  What would it have been like if we had not found other relationships and if we had just separated and gave it another try while sober and after we had some time apart?

A friend of mine finally kicked me in the ass and said “Please, if you picked up a drink would it be different this time?”  Obviously the answer is no.  It would not.  It would not be different.  Maybe we could have worked it out but we didn’t.  We tried and tried and tried for 8 years and it just got worse.  It’s not that I miss him, I just miss the idea of what I thought we were and what I thought we were going to be.  Sometimes.  But these thoughts and doubts are spilling into a relationship where things really CAN be different.  I push away someone who loves me and isn’t afraid to show it or work for it.  It’s been difficult trying to process some of the things from my past that I previously just brushed drank off.  Being sober means thinking about things I don’t want to think about and learning how to be reasonable and rational…sorting out my thoughts and then reclassifying them into things that make sense in my life and push me towards my goals and where I want to be.  It’s a very, very weird experience for me.

Thankfully, I’m at a point now where the day-to-day sobriety finally feels “normal”.  It’s normal to go home and take care of my kids, work out, make dinner, watch TV with a cup of coffee or a diet Mountain Dew.  It’s normal to wake up early on the weekends and drive around, shop, go to church or do fun activities with the kids.  It’s normal to go to bed by 10pm and sleep soundly the entire night, waking up on time for work.  It’s normal not to have to nurse a hangover for 8 hours before immediately planning on what to drink next.  It’s totally normal to skip the wine aisle at the grocery store and ignore the liquor stores when I’m on vacation.  It’s normal to spend money on myself on new shoes and goodies for my home rather than $10 convenience store bottles of wine.  This is my new normal and it feels absolutely amazing.

I still have weak moments and they really suck when they make themselves known.  I recently went to the beach with my boyfriend (just the two of us in Charleston and it rocked!) and the temptation hit me pretty strong.  It’s always easier when he is around because of the aforementioned support he provides, but still…being at the beach on vacation did not fare well in the trigger department.  Luckily we had lots of fun things planned so I was able to focus on that rather than how much I wanted a bottle of Cabernet.

My plan for the next day or two is to work on summer mock-tails.  I was watching on of those house hunter shows and they were referencing Pina Coladas.  I immediately thought “that–that’s what I want!  A Pina Colada sounds amazing!”.  The funny thing is, I didn’t even want it for the rum!  What?!?!  I just literally wanted the taste the drink.  It was the second time in 2 days that I wanted a cocktail sans liquor.  So I’ve decided I’m going to give it a go.  My boyfriend loves that stuff too so we can drink up together.  I am quite elated about this epiphany, if you couldn’t tell.  🙂

Well that’s all I have for now.  Two days of meetings this week for the SO will hopefully mean I can finish up Step 4 so I can move on in my step work.  I think I may be putting it off because I’m not really looking forward to Step 5.  But as the wait continues the number of people I can involve in that is growing, so at least I have that going for me.  In any case, I fully intend to remain active in my recovery even though I am not drinking and the urge has substantially dulled.

Happy Monday to all those hanging out in the sober blogosphere this morning!  God bless!

Yesterday was my birthday

Hello blogosphere!  I have been MIA for a little while now not because I am not conscious of my recovery but simply because I have been SO BUSY!  I have finished up my part time job for the school year and I have been spending time with my family, working, getting my 5 year old registered for daycare and trying to move forward with my divorce.  Unfortunately I have not had a lot of time for recovery work but hopefully will get back into step 4 soon since things have slowed down a bit.

In any case, I turned 29 yesterday.

I am a bit saddened to be starting the last year of my 20’s.  When I was younger I only ever wanted to be 30 because I felt that people start taking you seriously when you hit 30.  In your 20’s you’re just a “twenty-something” who knows nothing about life (even though I’ve been through more in 29 years than many will in a lifetime).  Now that I’m actually knocked at the door of 30…I’m feeling like I’d rather be 22 again.

Or maybe not.  I do feel that my life is just beginning.  I spent a good percentage of my 20’s in a drunken haze and there are many, MANY nights I do not remember clearly or at all.  Now that I am sober (109 days), I am fully participating in my life for the first time in over a decade.

I thought that once I was sober, I would have more time because so much time wouldn’t be wasted drinking.  It turns out that is not exactly true.  I now fill out my time with productive and growth-inspiring things so I actually find that I have less “down time” and I feel a lot busier.  I made a lot of excuses for myself, putting things off so I could continue drinking and now that I’m not doing that, the plate that used to contain very little nutrition and about 2/3 booze is now filled up with so much deliciousness that I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it.

The drinking triggers are so dull now it’s amazing.  I will say that last night, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a pineapple sangria recipe and thought about how I’d really like a fruity summer drink like that on my birthday, but then I moved on.  The urge only lasted less than 3 minutes.  The cravings, the urges…they don’t last.  They get so much easier with time.  You don’t can’t understand how your brain and your body adapts to going without alcohol until you experience it for yourself.

ALSO, I finally told my mom that I have stopped drinking.  She didn’t seem all that surprised that I had more of a problem than I let on.  She said it explained some of the financial issues that I’ve had and that she had worried that I was “overdoing it” (a gross understatement, but whatever).  She was happy though that I am no longer drinking although I don’t know if she believes that complete abstinence is necessary.  I, however, know that I am one drink away from daily binge drinking, so I’ll stick with what I’m doing.

Overall, everything is going really, really well.  I began tithing at church, and even though it made me nervous because of the amount of money, we have received some unexpected financial blessings that reassured us that God is in control and will provide for our needs.  I am working each day at giving myself up to Him and relinquishing control.  I get stressed and upset, but overall, I am happy with the woman I am finally becoming.  🙂

Oh wait.

Firstly, I am 90 days SOBER TODAY!!!  OMG!!!  Secondly, I just returned from Orlando this weekend after an awesome work conference/vacay.  My boyfriend and I left out on Saturday, spent Sunday and Monday at Disney World, had conferences on Tuesday-Thursday then came home on Friday.  And no, we did not take the kids with us, they were staying at their father’s house.

I do want to say that it was a rough week on the sobriety front.  As you all know, vacation only gives another un-needed excuse to drink alcohol.  There was booze EVERYWHERE.  It seems the happiest place in the world has a reason for said “happiness”.  At one point, after expressing all week how I wanted to drink (but refraining), my boyfriend and I got into an argument at dinner because we started talking about how he always has refused to drink with me but has drank with friends while out of town.  This bothered me, obviously, because I’m an alcoholic and drinking was the most important thing ever.  Finally he was just like “fine, go get a drink, do what you want” and I just stopped talking to him for the rest of the dinner.  He had no idea, because he can’t have any idea, how badly I wanted to just say yep, fuck it, and go get a margarita at one of the 800 million kiosks floating around.  I wanted it so bad.  Was it really that big of a deal to have ONE DRINK?  I’m on VACATION for God’s sake.  I would still be “sober” right?

Luckily, it took long enough to get the check that the craving passed and I did not drink.  I do feel pretty confident that if my boyfriend had not accompanied me on this business trip, I would have drank while there and if I drank there, it would have been very hard to stop once I got home.  Not to mention the fact that I would have felt like utter shit during the hours of meetings I had to participate in.

In any case, I did not tell my ex that we were going to Disney that week, but because we have fabulous mutual friends on Facebook, he ended up finding out and proceeded to blow up my phone around midnight the first night we were there about what a terrible parent I am for not taking the kids, complete with a slew of sarcastic emojis.  This blatant display of maturity caused me to inquire as to whether or not he had been drinking and he assured me that “no, not at all” which I have a hard time believing.  Thank you, kind sir, for the reminder of why you are my ex.

Then tonight I saw this.

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And I was like hahaha.  Oh wait.

I WAS, -literally- drunk the entire relationship.  From the first time we hung out in high school (hell, while we were in high school) we were drinking the entire relationship.  Our relationship was based on alcohol.  Our first kiss, the first time we had sex, the night we CONCEIVED OUR FIRST CHILD…completely and totally wasted.  I honestly don’t think I would have ever gotten sober as long as we were together.

Sometimes I feel guilty because my kids won’t grow up with two parents who stayed together.  I feel like I am cheating them out of a home that isn’t broken.  But then I remember what it was like and what it would have been.  I’ve saved nearly a thousand dollars in the 3 months I’ve been without alcohol.  I spend more time with them and get frustrated less easily.  I feel better and care more about being involved in their lives.

I gave them a gift they will never understand even if it came at a cost.

I don’t know what our lives would be like 10 years from now if I had stayed with their father.  But I can almost guarantee it would include daily drinking, blackouts, putting them in physical danger.  They would grow to hate both of us.  I watch Intervention and my heart breaks for those kids…5, 10, 15…who watch their parents kill themselves every day until they can’t take it anymore.  I am not and will not be that mother.

Each day my relationship with my boyfriend grows a little stronger.  He learns a little more how to support me and how to be a dad to my kids.  I learn how to be a normal, sober person.  How to solve problems and handle disappointments without hiding behind the foggy glass of the familiar wine or liquor bottle.

Next week I have my first meeting with a divorce attorney so I can initiate the divorce and file for custody.  I am looking forward to getting this awful past behind me so I can focus entirely on my future and the welfare of my precious babies.  I still hope that my ex finds happiness and that he himself is able to put down the booze and the weed and learn how to be accountable to himself, his children and to other people rather than focus on his own misfortunes.

The whole story is sad and can be downright depressing at times.  I try not to dwell on it but to mourn it little by little just as I did the death of my father.  Be sad, be angry, be apprehensive, but then move on a focus on all that God has given me.  I know He will not let me down now.  He never has.

Here is to making better decisions, taking control of my life and living in the experience of the present, not the mistakes of the past.  I can’t wait to continue my recovery!

Five more things I couldn’t do as an alcoholic

I’ve been working hard on the second part of step 4 and I should be ready to share a little of that with the blog in the next couple of days.  In the mean time, I’ve been a VERY busy bee and it’s had me thankful for my sobriety because of all the things I’ve begun to cram into my life that I never thought possible (or never wanted to be possible) before.  I wrote about some things I couldn’t do as an alcoholic but as time passes and I learn more about what I am capable of, the list continues to grow.

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This could be a list of things I am grateful for.  If you haven’t written it out yet as a part of your recovery I would highly recommend it.  It keeps you centered and reminds you of your goals and dreams.

  1. Run a 5k.  Running a 5k has been part of my bucket list for many years.  I am happy to say that I finally did it last Saturday with my boyfriend (who is not a runner but still was awesome and supportive about it).  We did the Color Vibe…you know, the one where you get colored powder thrown all over you at each mile marker.  It was amazing.  It was exhilarating.  And I did it in 30:22 minutes.  I haven’t been so proud of myself in quite some time.  And here’s the thing…there’s no way I could have done it hungover or still drunk from the night before.  Even though running a race like this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, I avoided it because I knew that Saturday morning at 8am was…not my strongest moment of the week.  Although I am still not a morning person, I am healthy and strong and sober enough to get up and do the things that mean something to me.
  2. Go to a drive in movie.  I have not done this yet.  But it is something I did not do before with my ex husband because my first thought is…are we going to be able to drink alcohol there?  That doesn’t make sense though because then we have to drive home.  And we could take the kids but shouldn’t drive them drunk.  Maybe we could just have a few at the beginning then sober up by the end of the movie.  But then we will get home late at night and we can’t start drinking at like 10pm.  You know what, never mind, let’s just go to Redbox.  WHAT?  I can’t believe how I let drinking control my every move.
  3. Watch fireworks.  With the 4th of July coming up, there will inevitably be events going on that include fireworks around 9pm.  I’d love to take my kids (as long as they don’t freak out and get scared, as they tend to do).  But my fireworks situation in the past has looked a lot like the drive in movie…I remember one year, we drove down the road to a park just a couple of blocks away with my son when he was about 18 months old.  There was a big concert, food, activities and fireworks.  We walked AWAY from the action and sat in the back of my ex’s pickup truck.  Why?  Because no alcohol was allowed in the park because it was a family event.  So our happy family walked our asses to the truck so we could start chugging Bud Light and Limeritas.  Right.  Then we never went back because really, how much fun is July 4th if you’re not getting wasted and setting off illegal fireworks in the back yard?
  4. Working at night.  I have a side gig working for my mom doing advertisements.  It’s relatively enjoyable and it means I don’t have to make a car payment so it works out well.  It helps her because she can barter payments with me instead of actually paying another person.  But…when I was drinking, it was very difficult for me to do the work I needed to for her in the evenings.  Many times I would start doing it and start drinking at the same time.  I would do a little bit, get drunk, stop caring, then put it off to the next day.  Sometimes I would bring my computer to my “real” job to complete ads so that I didn’t have to do them while I was drinking.  I ignored her phone calls and sometimes forgot what she had asked me to do because I was drunk when we talked on the phone.  Now I can do better work at home, answer her calls and not have to worry about how drunk I am or am getting.
  5. Going to church.  Don’t get me wrong, I went to church hungover or still slightly intoxicated from the night before, as sad as it makes me to admit that.  But now my attendance is much more consistent and it is much easier for me to get up and get moving.  I am so proud to be able to do this because my kids love church and are learning about God.  I also don’t spend time thinking about the other members and how they probably aren’t hungover or feeling awful like I used to be.

Today marks 78 days in my journey of sobriety.  I can’t believe I am creeping up on 3 months!  And to think I had never made it past day 7…

I can do this and other people can do it to.  I hope that I can continue down this road and not be tempted to go back from where I came.  I am learning so much about myself and my sober potential and each days is so much easier than the last.  I only need to make sure that I have a plan in place in case the urges come back (and I know they will).  But for now, I’m enjoying how far I have come.  🙂

Journey through the 12 steps: Courage

Last night I finally got a chance to start on step 4 while my boyfriend was at a meeting.  The theme of this step is courage.  It reads as such:

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

And so begins my personal moral inventory.  The workbook made it clear not to do the fourth step with the fifth in mind, because I should be as open and honest as possible.  The areas that I looked at first were honesty, responsibility, money and procrastination.  I will be honest, going into this I thought that I was going to feel shameful and embarrassed and realize what a shitty human I am.  In all actuality, there are a lot of good things about me.

I’m pretty honest and responsible in many aspects of my life and I’ve made leaps and bounds with money.  Procrastination has always been a weakness of mine but I was able to fairly easily identify my weaknesses in all of these areas.  Honesty may have been the most difficult.  As an alcoholic, you spend a lot of time being dishonest.  Not just hiding the alcohol from loved ones but making excuses for terrible behavior or lying about the things you did when you were drunk and didn’t care.

The problem is that honesty has always been an important value for me.  One of the questions asked if I had ever stolen money and my answer was absolutely not.  I would always say that I’ve done a lot of awful things in my life but one thing I will never do is steal.  To me, stealing is extra terrible (this is irrational–I’ve done many things just as unforgivable–I am aware of this).

One thing that made me feel kind of ashamed is that I was not raised to have these issues.  The questionnaire asked a great deal about my family values and, from my assessment thus far, my parents were pretty stellar.  My mother was a physician and my dad quit his job to stay home with me and later helped her manage her practice.  They were very hard working and intelligent people who never made excuses and always did what they needed to do.  I had great examples growing up but somehow made so many mistakes.  My guess is that further work on my inventory may reveal some of the reasons for this.

Responsibility was an interesting topic as well.  Questions related to what responsibility means to me and if I consider myself to be a responsible person.  It also asked about my level of responsibility as a child and how that changed as I became a teenager and then an adult.  I wasn’t a child who was burdened with a great deal of responsibility growing up but I always wanted more.  My problem just came in proving that I could handle it.  My guess is that I used alcohol as a way of coping with the parts that I didn’t want to, or couldn’t handle as an adult.  Physically, I can do almost anything.  Emotionally and mentally I dreadfully overexert myself.  Hard-working entrepreneurs for parents can teach you that.

Actually re-reading that now it has a whole new level of clarity.  Maybe my problem is trying to lift 100 pounds emotionally when I’m only equipped for 20?  That’s hard to recognize and often comes out in a variety of other ways (drinking?  cheating?  depression?).  Hmm.  Something to think about.

 

From the ruins

I’m taking a brief break from the 12 steps just because I haven’t had a whole lot of time to really sit down and put real effort into beginning step 4.  Something tells me this is going to take my full and undivided attention, so I need some time alone to work on it.  In the mean time, let me share a little of my experience at church on Sunday.

This Sunday, we had a guest speaker named Davey Blackburn.  Davey was a member of Newspring who moved to Indianapolis to start a church with his wife, Amanda.  One day, Davey went to the gym and when he returned he found his wife, 3 months pregnant, dead in the living room.  She was shot 3 times and once through the head.  She was alive when he got there but was pronounced brain dead at the hospital shortly thereafter.

Now, 6 months later, Davey came to share his experience and how he has been able to cope with her death.  Long story short, Davey discussed how he has relied on God during this tragedy and how he knows that God’s grace and glory can be found in even the darkest of life’s seasons.  Impressive for someone who just lost his wife…what faith!

During the interview, Davey said something very profound that I think is worth sharing and it is this:

Everything that we are given in this life is everything that we would ask for if we knew what God knows.

Wait, what?  So if I knew what God knows, I would have asked for my dad to die 6 years ago?  I would have asked for two failed marriages?  I would have asked to be an alcoholic?

I can’t imagine ever praying for these things, but at the same time, I absolutely believe this assertion to be 100% true.  This is part of step 3.  This is part of having faith.  Understanding that what God has planned for us is far beyond anything we could ever possibly comprehend for ourselves.  Our brains are far too limited to be able to wrap them around everything that exists in the universe and the physical and supernatural realm.  While God does not cause certain events in our lives to occur, He uses them to accomplish His plans in our lives, if only we would hold on and trust His promises.

It is this kind of faith…this kind of hope that helps us to get through whatever we are going through.

As an alcoholic, I had to believe that putting good into the universe…doing the right thing was going to get easier.  As hard as it is sometimes, I know that staying sober and working on my recovery is vital to my family and my own existence.  I believe God will “restore me to sanity” because He promised that He would and He’s never let me down in the past, even through exponential hardship.  He’s always lifted me up higher than where I started, and I’m grateful for that.  It’s hard to forget it.

In any case, my goal this week is to work on my personal inventory and trusting God to bring anything I need to know or address to mind.  I’m going through some things in my relationship right now that I need to work through and right now, I’m at a loss.  I am making the decision to trust God to show me how to do this and I think it may just start with step 4.

Day 71 today of sobriety and feeling pretty damn good.  🙂