Thursday, June 22, 2017

6/22/17 (Thurs) Poisoning myself

So I did drink the last 2 nights but only 2 glasses of wine each night.  I was really good during the day - which while on vacation isn't always easy for me. And then dinner comes and I get this, "Well...I will start after vacation - unrealistic to think I could do it on vacation" thoughts. I didn't have much but enough to make me disappointed, tired, bloated and irritable.  Last night I even left 1/2 a glass of wine on the table at dinner - didn't even finish it.  That might be a first ever.  It just didn't taste good and I didn't like the way it made me feel.

I read something in The Naked Mind that stuck with me:

When you stop putting poison into your body, it breathes a sigh of relief.
I really am just poisoning myself. Every time I drink - I poison my liver, pancreas, stomach, brain, esophagus, blood - everything - and why?  Because I am addicted. Alcohol contains ethanol, a known carcinogen, and alcoholic beverages contain at least 15 other carcinogenic compounds including arsenic, formaldehyde and lead.

I thought to myself - if I choose to drink - I will start feeling tried and irritable and it will make me dehydrated which will make me want to drink more, which I will pay the price for the next day.  Is that really how I want this to go?
I have thought about this the last couple of days when tempted to drink.  I have really been trying to play the whole thing through - from the time I take that fist drink until I go to bed, through the night and the next day.  Trying to rely less on immediate gratification and more in long term consequences.  I am trying to really sit with myself while sober and think about how good it really does feel to be sober. To think about how having a drink would change my whole experience of the moment - change my mindset of what I wanted to do next (figure out how to continue drinking). It has worked pretty well during the day, but when we get to dinner, and I know  I will only have two glasses of wine, I change my mind.

I am also noticing how I think I really am mentally physically addicted in terms of feeling grumpy, down, irritable until I have a drink.  It usually takes about 3-4 days before this happens.  I drink on the weekend - many times too much, have to recover for a couple of days and usually by the 3-4 day of not drinking (like on a Wednesday or Thursday), I start getting down, sad, irritable, grumpy, fatigued, anxious.  Then, I am noticing, one of two things happen - either I decide I am drinking on the weekend and perk up in anticipation or tell myself I am not drinking and my negative feelings worsen.  Obviously I choose the drinking path because it makes me feel better.  Who wants to be depressed, grumpy, tired and anxious? I have always thought this is just a response to the upcoming weekend, but I am realizing it is more than that. It is an actual physical response (neurotransmitters in my brain) to not having alcohol (an addictive substance) in my body for a certain number of hours.  It just happens to coincide with a weekend which helps me justify drinking.  It really is like clock work - really no different that the heroine addict who feels completely crappy when craving their drug just to feel better.  I a no different. It is just that my drug is legal and everywhere and accepted. If I had to go to a street corner, in the night, in a bad part of town to get a beer and then drink it in secret - would I continue to do it? I would like to say, Hell No! but I truly don't know.  Am I really any different just because my drug is sitting in my fridge and everyone else is doing it - even expecting it from me all in clear daylight - and romanticizing it.  Making me feel different and left out if I don't.  How ridiculous!!!

Spontaneous Sobriety is when you truly change your perspective on alcohol  - to see it for what it is - a poisonous, addictive substance.
I have been thinking about that - what it does to me, how I really do not enjoy the feeling of being buzzed after the first 10 minutes and how it is destroying my well being.  Trying to look at it from a little less of an emotional lens and more from a "fact" lens.  It is a poison I continue to put into my body - why? because I am convinced I am addicted to it.

The solution is simple - stop putting poison in my body.

Two things happened yesterday - from the mouths of babes.

Me - This wine doesn't taste good and is making my stomach hurt and my head feel weird.
Ds (19 yo) - Then why are you drinking it?

Dd (23 yo) - Maybe you should see a therapist to help you deal with all the shit that has happened to you in the past.  Maybe that would help you stop drinking.
Me (to myself) - Why is she even thinking about that?  Is she worried about me? No one has ever really mentioned my drinking to me before.  Isn't that a sign you have a problem? Plus, I do not want my kids thinking of me in this way.

I want to stop drinking and make them proud of me.  Make me proud of me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

6/20/17 (Tues) Struggling...still

I am sitting her in AK half way through my vacation.  I have drank the last four nights and have woken up all four mornings feeling crappy - terrible stomach ache (every time I drink), tired and depressed.

Physically, my stomach hurts, gassy, bloated

Physically, I look - bloated, swollen, overweight, tired

Mentally/Emotionally, I feel - depressed, anxious, sad

Do I want to spend the rest of my vacation feeling this way or do I want to choose different right now, today? Why wait until tomorrow, or when I get home, or after summer is over or after the next vacation in July or ...or....or...or....

There is always going to be a reason to drink.

The way I feel is a reason to not drink.

How about I try it different this time...who cares I am half way through my vacation.  Why not now? Why not today? Why not try to feel better today...not next year....why not now?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

6/13/17 (Tues) Tools to stop drinking

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Watching the Kevin O'Hara video on the 10 ways he has remained sober for 4 years.

The three I think I really need to work on are:

Use the long term reasons I want to stop drinking to overcome me need for instant gratification.
Visualize when my life will be one year from now if I quit or if I don't
Hold myself 100% accountable for my decision to put alcohol in my mouth - don't blame it on the situation, the environment or the people I am with.

What has to change in order to maintain sobriety? Prepare for obstacles, to be social.

Change of lifestyle
What are you going to replace alcohol with?

Understand your triggers
How are you going to deal with things that make you want to drink?

Change your environment
Change your environment to reduce triggers

Learn from past mistakes
Why did you drink after being sober? Why are you not able to moderate?
When you fail, look at why and don't repeat it.

Find the reasons you really want to stop drinking
Not a hangover which goes away and you forget - but long term reasons - from a non emotional place
The reason needs to be stronger than the desire to drink

Get leverage
What are the immediate positives of not drinking - think about that when tempted

Visualize yourself
If you continue to drink vs if you stop drinking

Be your own coach
Keep track - talk to yourself - hold yourself accountable

Take full responsibility for your behavior
It is 100% up to you if you choose to drink or not drink

Sunday, June 11, 2017

6/11/17 (Sun) More congnizant

I did drink this weekend - but I do have good news.  Last night we went with some friends to a brewery to watch a band play.  I volunteered to drive us all home - mostly so I wouln't drink. I did end up drinking 2 light beers before we left (dh drove there) and then didn't have any after that and drove all the wasted people home at 10:30 - at which time they all continued to drink. I did stay up and chat with my friend until 12:30 but didn't drink. Here are some things I noticed:

1.  Drinking is kinda stupid. I sat at the brewery wondering how all those drunk people were getting home. When I was going to bed I was listening to the police scanner in my city (I know - weird - but I like it). All of the calls the dispatcher was sending police to had something to do with alcohol or drugs.  I was thinking that I be the cops just wish everyone would stop drinking and drugging and just go to bed.  It was 1:30 in the morning for pete's sakes.  Drugs and alcohol are just really stupid for society.

2.  Drinking robs me of true conversations. Because I was sober, I was able to have a couple of really good, authentic, sober, unselfish conversations which would not have happened had I been drinking. While I feel drinking is what makes me have all my friends, I think it really just creates shallow relationships. It was nice to wake up this morning, remember everything I said and be grateful for the real connections I made.

3. I can be sober, not bored and social. I was able to sit with my friend until 12:30, while she continued to drink, and have a conversation with her.  While I kinda wished she would leave bc I was tired, I wasn't bored with the conversation. She shared a lot with me that I don't think she would of had she been sober. It felt good to be the sober one and truly be able to listen without having to constantly interject my story that relates to what she is saying.  It was kind of calming in a way - to be sober and truly listen.  I did get a little bored at the brewery but I would rather be a little bored, sober and have real conversations than buzzed, hyper, annoying and selfish.

4. I am thankful when I don't drink.  I came downstairs last night at 2:30 to tell my dh and his friend what time it was and they were still drinking.  I was so glad that wasn't me.  And I'm sure I feel a heck of a lot better than all of them this morning.  Even though I do had a little shakiness in my heart from only the two beers - which helps me realize that any amount of alcohol is just toxic to my body - its like intentionally poisoning myself and for what?  For nothing other than I am addicted to it.

Even though I did drink this weekend, I am still posting and still wanting total sobriety.  This is a huge improvement. In the past, my all or nothing attitude would cause me to not post and give up on sobriety when I drank.  Even when I do drink, I am really trying to notice why I don't like it and really be aware of how amazing being sober feels.  Something has shifted.

I am getting there.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

6/9/17 (Fri) Post from last June

I don't have any confidence in myself really in anything anymore.  I do a pretty good job of not letting people see this.  Most people probably think I am a good mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, teacher, person but deep down I don't think I am. I don't really accomplish any goals anymore. I just either am excited to drink on the weekends or drag myself through the day.  I am always exhausted.  I am outwardly positive, confident and brave. Inside I am sensitive, anxious and defeated. I don't have the physical energy to get stuff done and I don't have the mental energy to break through that. I do believe that this inability to believe in myself and what I am capable of is rooted in my time after time after time of failing to honor my promises to myself around alcohol.

I wrote this 6/13/16 and absolutely nothing had changed.  I feel exactly the same. So...if I don't change the one thing that is causing the problem, I will be sitting in exactly this same place next year - out of shape, tired, depressed and defeated. My physical exhaustion caused by weekend drinking derails my desire to be productive which contributes to my mood which leads me to drink to elevate my mood temporarily.  

The video I listened to today talked about immediate gratification vs long term happiness.  I know for 100% certainty that my 6 hours of drinking on a Saturday are not worth the 4 days of exhaustion and depression that follow.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

6/8/17 (Thurs) How does everything stay the same with my friends except the fact that I don't drink?

Today I listened to Kevin O'Hara's video - Other people don't like that you don't drink

It is so true - you can't live your life based on what other people want.  I don't want to use it as an excuse bc I drink bc I want to drink and I am addicted to it, but I do think about how my not drinking alcohol will affect my relationships with others. It was a good reminder that they have no idea what alcohol does to me. It is not the same as what it does to them. They don't know. I have to do what is best for me.

I was thinking about this false sense of control I feel I have bc I don't drink every day - really only 2-3 times a week. Granted when I do drink - when I have alcohol in my body - I absolutely have no control but if I were really that bad I would be drinking every day.  But here's the thing I have to remind myself - alcohol negatively affects my life when I do drink it even a couple of days a week - even if I moderate. I am sometimes embarrassed by my behavior while drinking, I suffer debilitating 2-3 day hangovers at least once a month, it makes me feel depressed and anxious for most of the days I'm not drinking, and it keeps me from meeting many of my goals and living up to my potential as a human being.

What, exactly, does it bring into my life in a positive way? Well, it does help me socialize. There is this sense of comradery with my friends when we have a drink together. It just doesn't feel the same or seem as fun with water. I don't want to stop being friends with them. I want everything to stay the same except that I don't drink. I don't know how that is possible.

How do I do that?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

6/7/17 (Wed) When did I lose control of my drinking?

Day 4 and starting to come out of my hangover fog. I need to stay the course, however, as this is when my mind starts forgetting how much I want to quit drinking.  It's such bullshit that the very thing that is making me so sick is the thing that is trying to convince me to use it.  If I had been sick from a bad case of food poisoning from the Nepalese food I ate on Saturday I sure as a heck wouldn't be trying to convince myself to go eat it again this weekend.

The Kevin O'Hara video I watched today was about being bored when sober.  This is one that I really struggle with.  One of the things he said was that successful people are rarely bored.  Think about your goals in life and do something that gets you closer to reaching those goals as opposed to drinking which gets you further from them.

The other thing he talked about was mindfulness.  I am not mindful or kind or loving or nonjudgmental with myself when I am planning drinking, drinking and recovering from drinking.  It is the opposite of mindfulness and very selfish.  I let my dogs outside last night and I just went and sat down. My brain is so much more calm when it doesn't have alcohol in it.  My brain gets very hyper when planning drinking, almost hypomanic when drinking and then incredibly depressed, distracted and isolated (not paying attention to anything or anyone) while recovering.

I started reading the book The Naked Mind and it is really hitting home.  The picture in the beginning is a perfect representation of how my brain feels while drinking.  The picture looks something like this:

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It's hard to explain, but this is how my intoxicated brain feels - going a mile a minute, not able to stay on any one thought, hypomanic without any sense of organization, just random thoughts with a distorted perception of my surroundings. And I just talk obsessively. It's probably super annoying how dominating I am in the conversation. Probably exhausting for other people to even watch. One time when I was sober and others were clearly drunk, I shot a look to the other person who was sober. I worried that the drunk people saw it and would be offended.  Then I think about my own perceptions when I drink too much. I would never notice other people at the table giving each other looks.  It is almost like I am blind to my surroundings - not really blacked out as I do remember most of what has happens - more like just completely oblivious to my surroundings in the moment. It feels like a distorted sense of blindness - completely unaware of everything except the chaotic, random thoughts going through my brain and then exiting my mouth. I could care less what others have to say. I don't like it.  Sitting outside last night I just got this overwhelming sense of thankfulness for having a clear, completely aware and awake brain right in that moment.  I do not like the feelings that come with being why do I keep wanting to get into that state?  Because I am an alcohol addict.

Which lead me into the two thoughts on the book so far.

1.  The author is a firm believer that EVERYONE who drinks alcohol is consuming a poison that they will become addicted to.  We are all in the pitcher plant that Alan Carr talks about - everyone.  Some people slide down the sides more quickly, some never get trapped in the nectar but everyone who puts an addictive substance into their body is running the risk of becoming addicted.  Everything that drinkers tell themselves to continue to drink, like it's just a habit, is just rationalizing the fact that they continue to drink alcohol because they are, on some level,  addicted - maybe just a little - but still addicted.  If someone offered you a million dollars to never drink again, would you take it?  If you need to think about it, she states, it is more than a habit.

2.  She asked the question - when did you lose control of your drinking?  I started o think about that. Was it last Saturday when I made a fool of myself and am just now recovering from the hangover? Was it 2 years ago when I stayed sober for 9 months, decided I was all better, drank, and fell right back into the same patterns? Was it 7 years ago when I started this blog to try to control my binge drinking and subsequent, ever worsening hangovers? Was it 8 years ago when I told my family I had a drinking problem? Was it 10 years ago when I found moderation management and tried to successfully moderate but was unable? Was it 15 years ago when a neighbor friend and I were going through some really hard personal stuff at the same time and would get together 4-5 times per week, drink wine and commiserate with each other in the name of being there for each other? Was it when I moved into this alcohol saturated neighborhood 20 years ago in which I became the fun, party mom who planned all the events and just relished in the fact that I lived in the best neighborhood ever and everyone loved me?  Was it 23 years ago when a friend introduced me to the sophisticated, mature world of red wine?

My brain just kept going back in time. I thought to myself - wait a minute - did I even have control when I was in my 20s?  I would binge every weekend and get really bent out of shape when we had other commitments that kept me from drinking.  I would fake reasons why I had to leave non drinking events on the weekend so we could go party.  My weekends were boring and stupid if I couldn't drink.  I lived for those weekend - getting all of my work done Mon-Fri so I had nothing to do on the weekends except drink and maybe nurse my tiny (in compassion to now) hangover.  I would drink too much on all family vacations causing all kinds of unnecessary drama that was, of course, never my fault.

Maybe I never really had control????  I felt like I just had this epiphany, like some great big aha moment.

I kept reading and the very next line was "MAYBE YOU NEVER REALLY HAD CONTROL" !!!  I seriously laughed out loud.

Maybe I never really had control......