Friday, August 2, 2019

8/2/19 - Sober and so much happier

I haven't blogged in a while because...well...I haven't needed to. I haven't really even thought about drinking and when I do, it is a fleeting thought. The thought "drinking would be fun right now" is quickly replaced with "that is your addiction talking and it would only feel fun while you are feeding it. It wouldn't be fun later and it isn't worth it." And then I have fun without it. Here is what I have noticed has changed over the last 14 months of sobriety about my weekend/vacation self...the times when I would have been drinking but am now sober.

I am calmer. Do I woop it up, get super loud, overly energetic and want to stay up until all hours so I can continue drinking? Not anymore. Although sometimes I still do get a bit crazy and silly which I didn't know was possible sober. I have a calm, relaxing time, have real conversations and go to bed when I am tired. I am still a bit of a hyper, Type A personality, but now I can tone it down when it might be annoying other people. Alcohol would just ramp it up and then make me not care who I was annoying or worse - keep me from realizing I was even being obnoxious. I look at people in this state now and think, "Wow, they probably don't even realize how loud and annoying they look." I didn't. I don't judge them, it is more of a bizarre fascination with how I used to be.  When I was buzzed I just thought everyone else was right there with me and I was the shit and everyone loved me. I am not so sure that was the case now. It is weird how alcohol makes you completely unaware of everyone else's perception of you. I know everyone likes me..it's not that..I just am not sure everyone thought I was as cool as I thought I was.  I couldn't see when I was annoying. I can still be annoying but am better at recognizing it and changing it. I am so much more self-aware.

I am less selfish. I used to be primarily concerned with me and my drinking on the weekends or during vacation. It didn't matter what anyone else wanted to do. If I wanted to stay up, or play cards, or sing my music way too loud, or not eat at a certain restaurant bc they didn't serve alcohol, or had to eat right now (really bc I wanted to drink) or watch a movie or whatever...it didn't matter what everyone else wanted. My buzzed brain made sure it happened at the expense of listening to or caring about what anyone else wanted. The weird part is that when I was doing all of that it took me so long to realize that I was only trying to drink more. I used to say things like, "You guys are all babies. Please don't get tired. Here have another drink. Let's do something. That will wake you up (even though it was midnight)." I am so much more in tuned now to the wishes of the group. I respect everyone else so much more. I couldn't see that I was being selfish. I can still be selfish but am better at recognizing it and changing it.  I am so much more self-aware.

I am more confident. I can speak my mind now without people thinking "Oh she is just buzzed. She is just being difficult." When I feel a certain way or want to do something, I can now say it because it is truly what I want. I can also set boundaries more easily. If someone wanted to me to help them or do something on a Sunday, I can now say no without worrying that they just think I have a hangover. If I truly don't want to do it, I don't. The reality, though, is that I am way more willing and able to help with things now that I don't have hangovers. I have always been confident but when it came to drinking and dealing with my hangovers it was more of a smokescreen. When I really felt like shit about myself, I had to make it seem to everyone else that I was fine by overcompensating my self-confidence. I am also more confident in sharing my feelings. I can truly say how I feel without it being caused by me being overly sensitive which alcohol always contributed to. I couldn't see how my self-worth was suffering. I am so much more self-aware.

I feel so much better physically.  My heart palpitations are gone. My panic attacks in the middle of the night are gone. My night sweats are mostly gone. My sleep is so much better. My anxiety is substantially lower, and my depression is pretty much gone. I don't feel super great all the time and I don't have my super high-highs that alcohol brought but I do not go to the low-lows anymore either. I am just at kind of steady. I am learning to find joy and happiness in life without the aid of a drug. I go to bed when I am tired, I get up without hangovers and just do life. I still have a ways to go in terms of working out, doing yoga, meditating and cleaning up my diet, but I feel so much healthier than when I was drinking. My digestive system thanks me every day that I don't drink. And I have lost 17 pounds in the last year, just from not drinking.

I am so much more productive. I used to spend countless hours in my dark office researching, reading, contemplating, analyzing,  obsessing and blogging about my drinking...like entire weekends and summers. It was agonizing, debilitating and a complete waste of time. This summer I remodeled my kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, living areas. I was my own general contractor and was super busy. It still wasn't all that healthy as I wasn't sleeping more than 5 hours a night, wasn't eating well and wasn't working out but it felt so much better than sitting in that hole of depression that I called my study which was dark red with oversized oak furniture. My office is now bright and open with a minimal amount of furniture. No more hiding from the world...from myslef.

I am now on vacation and haven't had the urge to drink at all. Finally!

My goals for the next year involve improving my self-care - eating well, working out, doing yoga, and just letting myself be calm..do nothing..read a book. I need to work on not always having to feel so busy. Not feeling guilty when I am not doing anything. Not always feeling like there is so much to do I need to do it right now.

Monday, June 10, 2019

6/10/19 - One Year Alcohol Free!!!!!

I can't believe it! I did it!  Today is my one-year sober anniversary! I am so incredibly proud of myself!

I NEVER thought I could do it. I tried and tried and tried to maintain sobriety - sometimes for 2 weekends, sometimes 2 weeks, sometimes 2 months - my longest previous attempts being 9 months and 6 months.  Part of my difficulty with remaining sober was that I never had anything really bad happen - no DUI, no loss of a job (I don't even think anyone at work knew I even struggled) - no loss of close relationships bc of my drinking, nothing that would be considered a "rock bottom".  Because I never had "proof" that my drinking was causing me problems, I kept convincing myself that I wasn't that bad, that it was just my latest obsession, that I could just try harder to control my weekend drinking. I still have a hard time with the word alcoholic - bc I really don't know if I am or not and that label (and the fact that I could not call myself one bc I hadn't had any of the classic alcoholic life difficulties) kept me sick for a long time. I would say to myself, "You are not an alcoholic. Look at the life of an alcoholic - yours is nothing like that. Since that is not you, you can learn to drink normally,  you can control your alcohol intake, you can be like everyone else. You can enjoy your life, be happy and drink. You just have to find a plan that works for you." I tried every rule in the book...no hard alcohol, no red wine, no high alcohol content beer, no drinking during the week, only drinking on Saturday, no more than 5 drinks a weekend, drinking water between every drink, making sure I ate first, never drinking before 4:00, not pre-partying before an event, etc.... It was exhausting and time and time after time/year after year, I found myself waking up in the middle of a Friday or Saturday night with night sweats, heart palpitations and severe anxiety unable to go back to sleep. It was the severe hangovers - no lasting for days - that made me want to quit. I spent entire summers (I am a teacher) reading books and researching how to stop my weekend drinking habit. I was miserable and exhausted. I hated myself for constantly making promises to myself and constantly breaking them. I knew deep down inside that this was not how I was supposed to be living, that I was not living up to my true potential. For the most part, I suffered in silence. My closest family members, a couple of friends and my online community knew...but other than that I lived in my own little prison I full of anger, self-loathing, failure, depression, obsession, compulsion, anxiety, and extreme sadness for 10 years!

One year ago, my super supportive husband made a comment to me while I was suffering from another debilitating hangover (after watching me struggle with this for so long and after yet another night of me not only drinking too much, but being kind of mean to him, not leaving with him and making him come pick my drunk ass up from my sister's house at midnight)  - he said, "Either quit or be an alcoholic." He had never said anything to me like that before. I cried and cried and cried - probably because I finally knew that this statement was a fact. I had suspected it all along but for someone else to say it to me was devastating. I finally called for help, got into an IOP program, got out of my own head and started to heal. He said exactly the right thing at exactly the right time and I will be forever grateful.

My daughter and son have also been amazing! They always listen to my constant rambling (I am a verbal processor) about my drinking, not drinking, how I am feeling, etc. and are ALWAYS so supportive.  My 21 yo son does not drink. He is part of a fraternity at his college and is the elected person in charge of "risk management" which is perfect for him. He can't stand the taste and thinks it is just stupid to alter your mind with a drug. He is really good about not judging other people who drink, he just doesn't choose to do it to himself.  My 24 yo daughter hardly ever drinks because as she says "why would I want to put that poison in my body - let alone the calories - I'd rather eat ice cream." I am so incredibly proud of them and actually look at them as inspirational. It is mind-boggling to me that they can be in their 20s, not drink and be happy. I was a pretty big weekend partier at their age and would have been miserable if I couldn't drink. They are both strong, compassionate, loving human beings. I am so incredibly grateful for my children and I will spend the rest of my life enjoying them in a much more present, less selfish, less self-absorbed, sober state of mind. I love my family so much for always being there for me in a non-judgemental, yet tough love sort of a way. I honestly don't know if I could have done it without them.

I also have a few friends and family members that have been there for me all along the way, supporting me and letting me know that I am indeed a happy, fun, enjoyable person to be around when not drinking. They have continued to hang out with me even though I am not drinking. They have proven to me I am worthy of being a friend, sister, daughter while just being me - without the aid of a social-anxiety reducing drug. I was really worried no one would want to hang out with me sober and really struggled with not isolating myself. I am learning, with the help of all of these people, that I am just as fun without alcohol. One of these friends even remembered my anniversary and planned a special day for me!

My daughter sent me a meme once that said "Lions don't drink. Be a lion!" That has now become my mantra. I am a lion! I can live a happy life without alcohol. I can be in the minority, not drink when everyone else is and still enjoy myself. I can be proud of myself and maybe even inspirational to others. I can and will live the rest of my life without drinking. I can get through the tough times and the anxiety-filled events and the Mays and the summers and the weekends without alcohol and will be so much happier without it.  I am strong enough. I am good enough. I am worth it. I am a lion and I will roar every time I feel like drinking bc I will never let alcohol control me ever again! I am so excited to see what my future holds now that I am out of this self-imposed prison and will live my life fully present and forever grateful.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

4/21/19 (Sun) - How bad it was

I just went back and read my posts from last April.  Geez! I was a mess.  I was terribly stuck in the "I don't want to drink but continue to drink" loop.  I wanted so badly for last spring/summer to be different. I desperately wanted to do 40 days or maybe even (don't dare to think it could be possible) one year sober! I went on to also have a terrible, mentally ill, addicted May until I called for help June 10.

While I am still not feeling great, but I am so glad I am not where I was last year.  I have over 10 months under my belt and know I will make it a year. As uncomfortable as I may be feeling now, it is nowhere near the devastating misery I was feeling last spring.

I went to therapy on Thursday. I so badly wanted to cancel but knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't go bc I would have broken a commitment I made to myself.  It was fine. It's just kinda weird to not be able to go when you really need it and then when you do get an appointment, you feel better so don't really want to talk about anything.

We talked a little bit about ACT (Acceptance/Commitment/Therapy) which I found interesting. She said to try to disconnect from my thoughts.  Just because I am thinking something doesn't make it true. I thought of it like - instead of being in the middle of a tornado of bad thoughts with everything swirling around me, overwhelming me, think of my thoughts as a bank of storm clouds.  Take cover, take care of myself, notice they are there but just wait and watch them pass by.  This was a pretty interesting metaphor for me. She is having a 6 week ACT support group on Thursday evenings. I think I will go. It may help me get through this first ever sober spring.

I also went to the Lifering meeting I have been wanting to try out.  It was weird that I wasn't at all scared or nervous to share my story, unlike IOP last summer when I was terrified and having a panic attack about it.  I didn't really get much out of this group. There were about 6 people sitting around sharing their week and any struggles they have coming up. I suppose it is supportive for them as some have been attending for years, but it just didn't do much for me. I like it better when that kind of "go around the circle and share" is accompanied by an actual topic or something new to learn about - a new perspective. This is why I am going to try out the ACT group. It will cost me $25 every week, while Lifering is free, but it is worth it. I was spending that much last spring on alcohol.

When I start feeling sorry for myself because I can't drink, I am going to come back here and read how miserable I was last spring...how I would have given anything to be in my shoes this spring - 10 months down 2 to go until I have made it to one year.  I need to remember how bad it was so I can appreciate how much better it is.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

4/13/19 10 Months

Well, truth be told, this month has not been easy. Previously, I had been overwhelmed with obligations at school and a flooded basement. I was very busy. I seem to actually do ok when really busy. I miss having a couple drink on the weekend to unwind and relax but am usually so tired I just go to bed.

What is harder for me is when everything becomes calm and I am not so busy. Then, it seems, all of my emotions come bubbling up, I get depressed, anxious, and really just despondent to life. We went on a vacation over spring break to Alaska to see my daughter and while I love being there and seeing her, it was really hard. It wasn't because I wanted to drink. Sure, I thought about it constantly...what would I be doing now? how much more fun would Mario Party be with a few drinks? etc. but I really didn't have much of a craving. In fact, I really noticed that it was way more relaxing than when drinking while on vacation.

What was difficult was my lack of anything to do...not much to do in southeast Alaska in spring. While spending my days sleeping in, walking my daughter's dog, playing games, etc was very relaxing, it also did something to my mood. It is hard to explain. I just got this whole - what is life all about/my life kinda sucks/why am I not happy/what is wrong with me/questioning everything/ever sensitive/down in the dumps/emotional kind of feeling. And then I had this feeling of if life is going to suck anyway, I might as well drink and enjoy it once in a while...get some relief from my depression/anxiety/boredom. We got back home and it took me a solid 5 days to shake the feeling. I still don't feel great but better.

Confused by my feelings, I started researching (I know shocker) and found something really interesting in an article about PAWS. This article said that PAWS can hit you up to two years into sobriety and it talked about the stages of relapse. I know I have written about his before, but I seem to have forgotten it (maybe my addicted brain wants me to forget). I had always thought that relapse was when you have that panicky/ I have to drink/go get one now before you change your mind/ hurry anxiety attack that I get right before I hastily slam a beer down my throat before I can talk myself out of it. I know that to deal with those I need to quickly distract myself, eat something, drink something (other than alcohol) call someone, etc...just power through until it passes.

What I had forgotten about were the reliable, predictable stages that lead up to that. Stage 1 - Emotional Relapse. This is exactly where I was in Juneau...depressed/sad/not enjoying life (but should be)/anxious/just feeling crappy. Not really wanting to drink but starting to think that if life is going to such anyway.....just thinking about getting some relief.  Stage 2 - Mental Relapse. I was close to starting down this road...trying to convince myslef I wasn't that bad, that I could try harder, that I don't want to live the rest of my life like this - without being able to drink (I all of a sudden need to stop writing about this becasue I can feel it waking something up in my head!).  Stage four - the physical panic attack that leads to drinking.

I know that I need to deal with my shit well before it gets to the physical stage. That is why I have an apt with my therapist this week, am making an apt with my dr and am going to a local Lifering meeting. I do not want to drink but am not super happy sober at the moment....jsut being honest.


Monday, April 1, 2019

4/1/19 Struggling

I am really struggling right now. I have no idea what is wrong with me. I feel like I am losing it...on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Is this is some sort of PAWS episode? I don't think I want to drink but am in such a bad emotional state that the thought that drinking would give me some relief has popped into my head. At least when I drank I could choose to not look at things. I would just focus on getting through until the weekend when I could have fun and not worry about things. 

Is this some sort of mid-life crisis? I have spent the last 25 years focusing on my kids and they are now all grown up. My daughter is thousands of miles away with a great boyfriend building a life for herself. My son is still in college but needs me less every day. I am so grateful that they have turned out so well, are doing a good job "adulting" and are happy. I just wonder where that leaves me.

Am I in an unhappy marriage that I have tried to end at least four times in the past but have either chickened out, changed my mind, decided I didn't want it, and for sure didn't want to hurt everyone else? Now I have no more distractions such as drinking and kids to keep me from seeing how unhappily married I am?

Do I have a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar? Do I need to be taking medication? I thought all of that was caused by my drinking and here I am 9 months sober suffering mentally and emotionally as badly as I did in active addiction.

Are my hormones off? Do I need to get my estrogen level checked again as I am having terrible night sweats, insomnia, exhaustion and sadness again? Maybe my HRT needs to be readjusted.

I feel so lost and don't know what to do. I am so sick and tired of trying to analyze myself, fix myself, figure out what is wrong with me. All of this obsessing over what is wrong with me, trying to have some insight and then trying to do better, be better, feel better is exhausting. I don't even know where to start. It all just feels so hopeless and pointless. I almost feel beyond the ability to function and I have no idea why.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

3/21/19 - Diabetes?!?!? Drinking?!?!?

Last weekend I was at my sister's house and we were messing around with her husband's blood sugar level tester that he has for diabetes.  My sister and son were at around 100-110 which is normal. I tested mine and it was 170! I was shocked! What?!?!?! I am not overweight and try to watch what I eat. Sure I could work out more but I have never had high blood sugar and have always had normal, healthy blood tests. Turns out, I found out because I tested my blood again later after I had washed my hands, that the Mango I had been eating earlier was on my skin and was inflating my number. I am actually around a 94.

The interesting (maybe pathetic) part of this story is that while we thought I suddenly had diabetes, my sister said, "Maybe this is why you can't tolerate alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of sugar in it and maybe the diabetes is making it so that you can't process it correctly and that is why it affects you more and you always have terrible hangovers."

All of a sudden, a switch flipped in my brain, what if that is true? What if I really do have diabetes and that explains everything. What if I go to the doctor get some medication for diabetes, get my blood sugar under control and then I CAN DRINK AGAIN?!?!?!?  WHAT?!?!? Really?!?! I could drink like a normal person - being able to stop at one or two and not wake up with a hellacious hangover after 3! I WAS SO EXCITED! I was actually thinking about if I could get to the doctor and get medication before our vacation that starts tomorrow!

My husband was like, "Oh my God! Seriously, don't drink!" My son was seriously mad at me saying things like, "You need to go to therapy. This is not the answer. I can't believe you are even thinking about drinking again." It was my daughter's reaction that hit me the hardest. Her reaction was, "ARE YOU F****ING KIDDING ME! MOM! So you are telling me that you are hoping for and glad that you might have diabetes SO YOU CAN DRINK! That is your addiction talking! If this doesn't prove you are addicted to alcohol, I don't know what does! Do you know how crazy that sounds! SHUT UP!! You are not drinking! That is just stupid!!!"

She is so right! How stupid was that? It absolutely was my addicted brain that just got this glimmer of hope. It was almost this primal, instinctual voice that came out of nowhere. Like it had been hiding - like I had kept in under a blanket for the last 9 months. Like a big wind gust came up and ripped the blanket away, suddenly exposing that dark, grinning, Cheshire cat, rubbing her hands together, saying, "Here we go! Let's do this! I think we can be happy again and drink! Hurry up, make the dr. appt. Maybe even drink right now since you will eventually anyway. You can have a glass of wine on the weekend again. You don't have to be socially isolated and not have any friends anymore! You can have fun and enjoy life again! You don't have to fight this anymore...you can just drink like a normal person! Thank goodness this sobriety is over."

Well...I don't have diabetes and I am not going to drink...but I do think I need to go back to group and therapy.

This is what I want my addiction to be: cute and controllable and happy

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This is really my addiction just laying in waiting to pounce and control me: angry and consuming


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This is what it promises me

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This is what I get

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

9 months

I will be 9 months sober on Wednesday.  I'm doing pretty well. 

I just posted this to someone on the mmlist that I am a part of:

"Hi! I don't know if you remember me but I, too, have been here at least 10 years. Here is my experience for what it is worth.  I have gone back and forth - drank and not cared, drank and cared but not done anything about it, drank and really tried to keep my weekend binge drinking under control, absed and fought it the whole time, absed and been relatively content with the process, etc.  Last summer I finally asked for help and completed a 4-week Intensive Outpatient Program.  I have now been sober 9 months - my longest attempt at forever sobriety yet.  What is true for me is that - ya weekends sometimes suck a little, vacations and holidays and special events sometimes suck a little bc I can't drink. Honestly, I miss it. I long to be able to just sit down relax with a drink and not care.....but.....that momentary sense of relief that alcohol brings just isn't worth the anxiety, depression, self-loathing, heart palpitations, insomnia, obsessive/compulsive thinking, etc that comes with it. The more I fought my drinking patterns and tried to control them, the harder I was on myself when I didn't do as well as I wanted.  I came to the realization that while my drinking had very much gotten better, my mental health was steadily declining.  

I feel best about myself when I am not drinking. I am proud of who I am. I am not the self-serving, attention seeking, overly sensitive, non-listening, loud person that I have come to dislike when I am drinking. I am quieter, have more healthy insight, am a better listener, friend, sister, daughter, mother, wife, teacher, coworker when I am able to get out of my own self-destructive obsessive thought patterns that come with drinking. I only get to this place when I have given up the fight - just accepted that I am a person that does not deal with alcohol very well and totally stop drinking.  For me, it became less about how much I was drinking and more about how much I thought about drinking and the feeling of not being the best person I could be. I am the best version of myself when I am not drinking at all.  Now I know that I have way less high highs that came with drinking, but those highs are not worth the low-lows that also came with drinking. I am now trying to figure out how to live in the even keelness of sobriety. "

What I am also realizing is that I don't think I ever really knew who I was.  All of the negative things about myself I blamed on alcohol. All the postive things about myself I gave credit to alcohol for.  For example, I am learning that I really do need down time. Time to regroup, be by myself and re-energize.  I never knew this about myself bc every time I had down time on the weekend it was bc of a hangover.  I am letting it be ok that I want to just binge watch "Castaways" on Hulu on a Saturday night. It is not a waste of time and sometimes I just need a little downtime.

I am also learning that I can be a little overbearing, a bit of a control freak, over achieving, impatient person...and that is not bc of the alcohol.  I don't really like this side of of myself and am working on being more patient and relaxed but I am not a bad person bc I have these qualities. I have always looked at these things as being caused by my drinking problem.  I don't think that is true, but what is true is that I am more accepting of myslef, flaws and all, when I am not beating myslef up about alcohol.  I am also in a better place to work on those things about me that I don't particularly like.  

This spring may not be easy.  I have never made it through a spring sober in 30 years except when pregnant.  I think I should maybe go to group, go see the therapist and blog on a regular basis.  I am a little nervous about getting through it.

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