Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1/1/19 - Grateful for my kids

Happy New Year! I didn't go to bed until 3:00 am, but I went to bed sober :)

Today I am grateful for my two kids, ds age 20 and dd age 24. Neither one likes to drink, and didn't last night. They are both so encouraging and inspirational to me. I would have been getting wasted on New Year's Eve at their age (and for the following 25+ years). The both have so much insight when it comes to not allowing a drug to determine how good of a time you have. They are also so supportive of my sobriety. They are both very proud of me, and tell me all the time. My dd said (to my sister), "We like sober Mom better." I like the sober me better as well. I am a better version of myself.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

12/31/18 - A Look Back

Last day of 2018.  It was kind of a rough one. Last year, the holiday season (2017) was not good. I had been sober for a couple of months, drank towards the end of October and then drank my way through the holidays. Last December, I drank on our vacation to the mountains (on my dd birthday) and was not happy with myself.

I started the year sober and even made it through my 50th birthday. I drank one beer in March with my new colleagues at my favorite brewery in the sun on a Friday.  I didn't drink again for a couple of weeks and then went on vacation over Spring Break. Had one beer in the airport and then only six beers in the next three days (two each night while making dinner).  I never got drunk but just didn't feel well. I wasn't sleeping well, had bad stomach aches, definitely had the "sneaking feeling" while drinking/cooking - trying to hide the bottle and take drink when no one was looking. They knew I was drinking but I certainly wasn't proud of the fact.  When asked about it, I just gave my typical response, "I'm fine."  I may have said I was fine and even tried to convince myself of that but was having the "panicky/I need to get some alcohol/when am I going to drink/let's hurry to the airport bar before the flight/panicky the waitress is taking too long to bring me the beer...I won't have time for a second/hurry...dh...go to the beer section at the grocery store and get me some beer before the kids notice or I change my mind....HURRY!) I explained the mental and emotional ramifications of drinking here. It think this is a great reminder that even if I am able to keep the amount under control, alcohol still had a profound effect on my mental and emotional well being.

April and May were a disaster. I wrote this is April

Please don't drink this weekend. You are sitting here at 4:00 am on Monday morning feeling bloated, puffy, exhausted and disappointed in yourself. You once again decided drinking would be a good idea and have, once again, paid a steep price. Just a reminder - you were up Saturday night from 3:30-5:30 with a stomach ache, extreme anxiety, hot flashes and heart palpitations. You laid on the couch, ate quesadillas and drank ginger ale, feeling awful, watching Dr. Phil for two hours before you could go back to sleep. Is that any way to live? Were those glasses of wine worth it? You are still not working out because you are recovering from the choices of Saturday night. You have stepped back onto the hamster wheel of feeling terrible on Sun-Wed. Then, just when you body starts to get rid of all the toxins, you start convincing yourself it would be a good idea to re-poison yourself this weekend. You are never going to get in shape, find mental freedom and be the best version of yourself if you continue to poison yourself every weekend.

I wrote this is June after the last time I drank

Went to my sister's house for a party last night. Drank one hard seltzer before I left and then three more there before I switched to wine. Once I switched to wine I just didn't want to stop. My dh asked me to not drink wine and to leave with him at 10:30.  I said no and that I wanted to stay and play cards. I just kept drinking and was kinda glad my ds and dh weren't there to watch me. We even opened another bottle and made him come back and get me at 12:00.  Needless to say I woke up with an anxiety attack, shaky, with a headache and nauseous.  I feel like total garbage.  This is the pattern I didn't want to repeat for the millionth time - do well moderating for a while, drinking slowly increasing, finally culminating in a bad night followed by a horrendous hangover.

I finally make my way downstairs this morning and my dh, who is usually really supportive of me no matter what I am doing (moderating/abstaining/struggling), says, "I don't have a lot of sympathy for you today. I tried to get you to leave and to not drink wine." I shoot back, "I'm not looking for sympathy." He says, "I'm getting a little tired of this.....either stop drinking or be an alcoholic! You wanted to stay last night not to play cards but to keep drinking!"  

I was shocked and hurt that he said that to me. He has never said anything like that to me before. I just started crying and couldn't stop....not because he said it, but because he is probably right and it is just really hard to hear. I don't want to be an alcoholic. I don't want to stop drinking. I want to be able to moderate and drink like everyone else does.  

After I wrote this and swore I would never drink again, 4 days later I felt better and was thinking about drinking that weekend. I finally gave up and called for help. This was followed by six weeks on IOP - Intensive Outpatient Therapy, prescriptions and therapy appointments. I am so I spent my July at Kaiser and did all of that work mostly bc if I think about drinking now, I think about all the time I put in and how it would have been a complete waste of time.

Now I have been sober almost 7 months (January 10). My greatest hope is that I don't write about how terrible I feel bc of alcohol during 2019. I truly want to focus on being more at peace with me and the way I am living. I am incredibly proud of myself for the progress I have made. I am grateful for many things and am going to start writing about how great life is and how grateful I am to be able to live it and enjoy it SOBER!

Friday, December 28, 2018

12/28/19 - Getting older (shameful admissions)

As shallow as it sounds, I do feel that a lot of my insecurity with getting older is with my appearance. In my 20s and 30s I was always super confident in the way I looked. I worked out a lot and was pretty proud of my appearance...maybe even a little conceited to be honest. I was in better shape than all of my friends. In my 40s, I started to notice myself getting older - age spot from tanning for many years, wrinkles around my lips, parenthesis around my mouth, gray hairs becoming too numerous to pick out....drinking was also becoming more and more important in my life which lead to me becoming out of shape and flabby. I wasn't working out and eating way too much sugar and processed food, mostly bc all of my attention was going to the exhausting pursuit of trying to control my alcohol intake (and still is except now the work is staying sober).  I refuse to buy "fat" clothes so everything is too tight. I constantly feel uncomfortable unless I am schlepping around the house in yoga pants.

I am now the older woman standing in front of the mirror pulling the face up by the ears to see what I used to look like. I never thought this would be me. I somehow thought i would stay young, thin and vibrant forever. Getting old was for people who didn't care about how they looked and had just given up. Well, I have also  given up it seems.  It is depressing, really.  I even noticed that people are treating me differently - I don't seem to get the same level of respect at work or in normal social conversations. What I have to say just doesn't seem as important. Fewer people notice when I walk into a room. Sometimes I wonder if I have now become that older teacher that I used to look at when I was in my 20s and 30s and wonder what they even had to offer. The woman that is old, irrelevant, out of shape, has given up on her appearance. I think I was guilty of a bit of secret old age shaming and now I am that person. Maybe that is why it is hard for me...karma. I just feel like  don't matter as much anymore. It is a very subtle feeling and I am never really sure if I am imagining it bc of the insecurities I was developing bc of my issues around drinking or if it is real. I think I just have dealt with all of that "being uncomfortable in my own skin" feeling with drinking. Now I don't have the drinking to hide behind and make me feel better...more likable, more fun, younger, more important, prettier, thinner, to help me forget about all my insecurities. Even though I know that drinking made all of that worse in the long run, it did help me feel better in the moment.

Jeez...that sounded like a ridiculous, self obsessed pity party...which no one in my world ever sees, but it does feel good to get it out.

I am really an incredibly blessed woman with a great job and an incredible family...so why do I feel so depressed about getting older and what do I do about it that doesn't involve a mind altering drug?????

Thursday, December 27, 2018

12/27/18 - almost 7 Months

I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I just need to get through New Year's, a little vacation 1/3-1/8 and my birthday mid Jan. 

I am actually doing pretty well.

The positives:

  • No hangovers!
  • I can say no to things without worrying people think it is bc I am hungover.
  • My sister says that I seem calmer and less frantic in general
  • My sister will no longer drink in my house, even though I say I don't mind. She says it is disrespectful. She also did not drink on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  • I am much more flexible with my plans. When I was drinking - if it wasn't perfect, it was ruined. I am much more OK with things not being perfect. For example, we hardly put up any outside lights and got a tree on 12/23 (it is usually up the day after Thanksgiving and perfect). It has barely any ornaments bc I didn't want to drag it all out of the crawl space, and you know what...who cares! I was busy doing other more important things - hanging out with my dd who is visiting and my ds who is home from college. We took hikes, got massages and did some shopping....much more rewarding than worrying about a tree.
  • I had a very intense, emotional conversation with my dd Christmas night after everyone had gone home. She is having a hard time living so far away from us. I was able to completely focus on her and support her without making it about me - which I would have done had I been drinking all day. She said that had I been drinking all day, like in the past, she probably wouldn't have even opened up to me about it. 
  • My daughter says that I am much calmer - more even keel. She said that I used to have pretty severe mood swings and that now, even if I am exhausted and grumpy or excited and happy, it is less dramatic and I am much more pleasant to be around.
  • On Christmas Eve, instead of sitting around drinking with the other adults who were drinking, I played "blackout hide and seek with my adult kids and two nephews.  It was so fun and they kept begging me to keep playing. It was super validating!
  • When my nephew is hassling my sister about drinking - I know he isn't thinking the same thing about me. I am able to be a positive role model for them.
  • I was able to tell a drinking buddy from work that I haven;t drank in 6 months. She asked why. I just said that I am unable to process alcohol anymore and the hangovers aren't worth it.
  • I am way less reactionary, sensitive and judgmental. I feel more observant, accepting, thoughtful and aware of my own thoughts and behavior.
  • I have lost 15 pounds - even while eating crappy and not working out.
The things I am still struggling with:
  • When my new friends from my new school want to go out and have drinks after work on a Friday afternoon. Sometimes I come home and cry. I suppose part of it is that I want to drink, but it is also bc I miss the camaraderie and friendships formed after work having some drinks. I also didn't go to the work Christmas party or any of the women's get together. I am not sure if it bc I will be uncomfortable not being able to drink or it is bc I don't want to answer questions about why I don't.
  • I miss the excitement that I used to feel for Thanksgiving, Christmas, a weekend, a work party, having friends over..anything that involved drinking. I know that most of that excitement was tied to being able to drink, but now everything just kind of feels blah.
  • Figuring out who I am, how to deal with getting older, what my purpose is, what value I hold, and how to deal with everything not being about me. I used to be the young, pretty, fit, fun, life of the party. I am struggling not to become the frumpy, grumpy, out of shape, not fun, boring, non relevant old lady. I used to use alcohol to connect with people, to make them like me, to gain attention, to feel relevant and important. Trying to figure out my importance in this world without alcohol. What is my value at 50 years old?
Goals for the new year:
  • Finally start working on my fitness/health...working out, eating healthy, doing yoga and meditation. I think if I could be proud of my fitness (mentally and physically) level, I would feel more positive and maybe a little less exhausted. I think it would really improve how I feel about myself.  I have been telling myself for years that I would do this and I keep breaking my commitment to myself.  I am going to really work on this. It isn't that I am old and fat...I am 50, 5'3" and weigh 135 pounds, but I am not fit. I eat crappy, none of my clothes fit properly bc of a high body fat %, and am exhausted all the time.
  • Try to figure out how to still be social without alcohol. I need friends and to feel like I "fit in". I just need to do it a couple times without drinking. It might be uncomfortable, but it might not be. I may still have fun, connect with people and realize that they really don't care it I am drinking or not. I won't know unless I conquer the fear and try. Hiding in my house all the time isn't doing my mental state any favors.
  • Stop watching stupid reality TV and start reading. It doesn't matter if it is self help books or stupid fiction novels, I need to stop checking out of my life with TV. I used to do this constantly while hungover, but now I need to start actively participating in my own life.
Here's to an alcohol free, productive, relaxing, positive 2019!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

10/28/18 - 5 Months!

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I thought I would check in this morning as I hit my five month mark today!  I feel pretty good.  I have had a couple of cravings but not too bad. I am learning that I have more "pre-party" cravings than anything. 

For example, Friday was my first experience with supervising a middle school social.  It wasn't that bad, but the kids were kind of hyper all day because of the messed up schedule and the social, so it was a bit exhausting. This was causing me to have some cravings. This kind of a day has always been a trigger for me...especially if it is on a Friday. I could always justify drinking bc it was a tough day at work and it was "kind of" hooked to a holiday...it was a Halloween Social. In the past I absolutely would have gone home and had a couple of beers. Just sat back, relaxed, and thought "phew, that was exhausting". That afternoon we went to my sister's house (yes, my wine drinking buddy sister) for her son's bday party.  There were other women their who were drinking white wine (my favorite). I honestly didn't have any cravings. I just drank my seltzer spiked with San Peligrino and watched them all get a little louder. 

It did bring back the memory from last June when we were at her house for another party, everyone was drinking, I decided I would as well, got super loud, stayed until midnight and had my dh come back to pick me up. That night was followed by one of the most emotional hangovers I had ever had and my first day of sobriety. 

Anyway, the "pre-party" craving - right when I got off of work was much more difficult than while I was actually at her house. 

Last night, we were invited to a Halloween party at a brewery not too far from our house. My neighbor's (yes, my beer drinking buddy neighbor) adult sons both play in a pretty good band that was playing there. When we got there EVERYONE was drinking and loud and dancing and partying and have a really good time.  I was in my element for partying, but really didn't have too many cravings. They sold kambucha, which kind a looks like beer when poured in a glass, so I just drank that and was fine with it. I actually sat still and enjoyed the music and talking to my friends rather than being super hyper, just wanting to move around and maybe go outside so we could talk (aka I could talk) more easily.  It was actually a bit enjoyable. 

My cravings, once again, were worse when I went up to take a shower and get ready to go. This would have been when I started drinking to get ready to really drink.  Once I go there it was fine - no really anxiety or panic attacks. 

Most importantly, we left both nights at a decent time, came home went to bed, got some decent sleep and didn't wake up with a hangover.

Last weekend was a little more difficult. My new friends from my new school were going out on Friday to sit in the sun and have some drinks. It had been an exhausting week and I REALLY wanted to go. I started having all those same thoughts - you weren't ever really that bad., you just thought you were, you aren't really an alcoholic, you can control it, just go with them, bond and have a good time, you deserve it, this is stupid, it will be fine.... I didn't go but I was really bummed about it the rest of the night.  I actually sat in the Costco parking lot and had a group conversation with my adult kids and husband.  They said some pretty poignant things. My son said (kind of reasoned), "Mom, you have done so much work to get to this point. Don't throw it away for a couple of hours drinking. You know you will be disappointed tomorrow." My daughter, who is a bit more boisterous, said (kind of yelled), "Mom, are you kidding me! No! your don't need it to have a good time. You can do all the things you want to do, or not, without drinking and you will feel so much better."  My husband said (kind of pleaded), "Honey, please don't.  You are in such a better place and I don't want to see you go back down that path of constantly battling yourself and beating yourself up."  I love my family! That helped. I went into Costco, went home, was still a bit depressed but just went to bed. The next morning was really weird. I felt like I actually had an emotional hangover. I couldn't get out of bed, I laid around watching dumb tv until noon, I was exhausted and emotional and pissed and grouchy. 

I honestly think that some of this had to do with the Zoloft I had been taking. Zoloft was having three pretty big  side effects on me. One, an most importantly, it was really messing with my sleep. I never really felt like I was getting good sleep. I think it was keeping me from having REM sleep. I wasn't remembering any dreams and was waking up exhausted.  One of the huge benefits of sobriety for me is getting good sleep. This was not happening and I was just feeling so run down and tired all the time that I started wondering why I was even quitting if I wasn't going to feel any better. 

Two, it was also really messing up my intestines. My ability to go to the bathroom regularly was all messed up. I was usually pretty constipated, always felt like I had to go and then when I finally did never felt like it ever completely emptied out - I know - gross but true. This made my stomach hurt, and made me feel bloated and sluggish all the time.  There is nothing better than getting a really good night sleep and then  "taking care of business" the next morning. Neither was happening. 

Three, my neck and back were really hurting. My neck kept grinding and popping and almost getting :stuck" when I would move it a certain way. The tendon/muscle that runs between my shoulder blades and my spine was always killing me. I even bought a back massager and used it so long the first time that I bruised my back. I started doing some research and learned that all of these symptoms are side effects from the Zoloft. 

It took me three weeks but I have now weened myself off of them as of three days ago.  Maybe it is all in my head, but the last two night I slept, remembered my dreams, went to the bathroom and have had less neck/back pain.  I suppose it is possible as I was on a tiny little half of a 25 mg pill for a week before I stopped taking them. I had gotten up to a 50 mg dose. I know that really isn't that much, but maybe my body/mind is just as sensitive to these types of medication as it is to alcohol. It just doesn't work for me.  

It also does not escape me that at this exact time last year, I had been sober for a little over four months and chose to drink again, which resulted in a disastrous few months. Not this time.

Thanks to all of you that had been thinking of me and checking in.  So far so good!

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Monday, September 3, 2018

9/3/18 - Could you have one glass of wine right now and be fine?

My sister (the one I always break my sobriety with...the one I love to drink wine with...the one who has never told me no when I have said I wanted to drink..the one who always questions if I am really that bad and if I will ever be able to drink again...the one who makes comments about how I am not drinking....again) invited us over for dinner last night. No one drank! It was awesome. Really the only other one who would have been drinking is her and I think she had already partied with some friends on Friday, so maybe she just wasn't feeling like it. I didn't get the impression it was because of me.

We were sitting on her back deck just chatting for a long time. Her husband joined us and asked me, "Do you miss drinking?" Well, that is a very complicated question that took a minute to answer... probably too long but I feel like the more they understand, the more they will support me. This was my response:

Sometimes, yes, I do miss it.  I have been thinking about what I really miss about it. Do I miss the low lows that come after drinking that lasts for days...NO!  Do I miss feeling buzzed, feeling kind of hyper and happy yet relaxed without any anxiety...sometimes but really not so much. I really don't think I miss the feeling of actually being buzzed. I would much rather sit here completely in the moment and present not trying to dominate the conversation and really not listening to anything. In fact, I have to say (directed toward my sister) I am really glad this evening turned out the way it did. You are really hard for me because we have always drank wine together and I have always enjoyed that. It has been difficult to be around you lately bc it triggers me to want to drink. The more we do this (get together without drinking) the easier it will be for me. She said, "I agree."

I continued...I think the really hard thing for me is missing the anticipation of drinking. Getting excited for the weekend and parties and get togethers and events.  I have a hard time feeling excited for things and many times don't even want to do them. I would just rather sit on my couch watch tv and go to bed bc it doesn't seem like it would be fun without alcohol. I know it could be, but I just don't want to deal with it. I also know that I can't isolate and the more sober experiences I have, the easier it will get. It just takes a lot of talking myself into even leaving my house. Once I do,  I end up being glad I did, but it is hard when nothing sounds fun anymore. I hope, with time, this gets better.

He doesn't drink very often and usually has no desire so he really doesn't understand. He asked, "So, are you saying you can never have another drink again? Are you like my uncle that if he drank a beer right now, he would be a drunk for days? Could you have one glass of wine right now and be fine?"

My response...Yes, I could have one glass of wine right now and not go off the deep end bingeing for days. But would I be fine? No. My obsession would start back up, my compulsive behavior with alcohol would be triggered, my alcohol induced bipolar behavior would start back up, my anxiety would increase, my insomnia would increase, my depression would increase, my heart palpitations and hot flashes would start back up, my oversensitive feeling would come back. And (after 10 years of keeping track) I know it would just be a matter of months before I was binge drinking again on the weekends, suffering from debilitating hangovers and just back in a very dark place. That one glass of wine right now isn't worth it. Alcohol is just not good for me.

Then, amazing things happened. My son chimed in. He said, "She is right. My sister and I have seen that cycle over and over and over for years. She is right. It will happen again." My husband said, "She is just happier when she isn't drinking." And my sister (who has never really understood it) said, "It is just better for her if she doesn't drink at all."

I left there house actually feeling understood. It was an amazing evening that would have never happened if I would have had that one glass of wine.

85 Days Sober

Sunday, August 26, 2018

8/26/18 - Building new relationships with old friends.

Got through my first full week as a middle school teacher.  I love it! I'm sure it is going to get more difficult once the assignments start rolling in (or not) and I have to deal with missing/ late work, kids who aren't understanding, parents who have questions, etc. but it is a relief to only teach one subject. Also, middle school teacher seem to be a little more chill which is good for me. I tend to get caught up in the environment I am in. If I am teaching with intense teachers, I tend to be more intense. I'd rather be chill :)

No major craving this week - too busy and too tired. Friday -  just came home, binged watched some Netflix, ate some pizza and went to bed early. Last night dh wanted to get together with two of our couple friends. He had gotten mad at me last weekend for not wanting to do anything, so I (reluctantly) said yes. One of the other women doesn't drink, so that made my decision a little easier. We went to dinner and then came back to our house. They guys stayed inside drinking their fancy high alcohol imperial stouts. We sat out back on the patio. I made myself a lemon/mint San Pellegrino in a fancy stemless wine glass full of ice and we just talked for four hours. 

I have to say...it was nice. We all kind of shared some things we were struggling with and were a little vulnerable.  I shared a little about my alcohol journey which always feels empowering. When I drank, I never really had authentic conversations with anyone. I was a manic drinker....it made me hyper and kinda selfish. Sure, I could sit and talk for hours, but I was still hyper in my own head, wasn't really listening and probably wouldn't remember the conversations clearly the next day. I was sitting there talking and drinking and "listening" but not really present. It wasn't a real connection.

Last night, I really feel like we had some connections and were honest yet supportive of each other. I never have felt like I have had "real" girlfriends that truly cared about me and what was happening in my life. That could be bc I have been so wrapped up in my own bullshit for so many years I haven't really cared about anyone else. All of my relationships have seemed superficial bc they have been built while drinking. They have been more like drinking buddies.

Maybe now I can start to build some supportive, girlfriend, "real" connections with people. It is an interesting prospect that isn't going to happen with me isolating on the couch. I do know I need down time, though, so maybe just "chill" on Friday night and then try to do something social on Saturday...even if I don't feel like it. I didn't feel like it last night but am now glad that I did.

Here's to a hangover free life and building "real, authentic" relationships with people!