Friday, January 22, 2021

1/20 - My 53rd Birthday - The dumpster fire year of 2020

Today I turn 53. Where am I at?

What has happened in the last year? Soooo much!

We sold our beloved family home of 22 years. I am sad almost every day as it contained all of my memories of raising my children. I lived there from the age of 30 to 52. We built that house when there was nothing out there. It was so peaceful. We had a private, beautiful backyard with a great patio, s a deck with a hot tub, views of the mountains and the city and so many birds. I especially loved the Meadowlarks. It was brand new. It was so exciting. A lot of wonderful amazing years happened in that house. My children's whole life in is that house. All of their memories of childhood. I moved around so much as a kid that I wanted to give my kids stability. As much as I sometimes struggled throughout those years, I feel we gave them a pretty darn good childhood there. They always had their friends over to our many legos, knex, Polly pockets, barbies. So many family movie nights, ski trips, bike rides, family vacations, garage door movie nights, sleepovers on the trampoline, Christmases, birthdays., learning how to drive, graduating from high school. So many pets...5 dogs, 2 guinea pigs, 2 hamsters, 2 hermit crabs, 1 fish..many of whom are buried in the backyard. So many emotional memories as well....a very difficult pregnancy, my dd first breakups, learning my son is gay, dealing with the deaths of loved ones....all have energy in that house. I feel guilty for taking that house away from them. I also have so many fun adult memories of all the parties, trips to Lake Powell and Glenwood Springs, Chili cook-offs, New Year's Eve parties, Pub Crawls with all of our neighbors. I really miss the sun. We had great southern exposure with no wind in our backyard. I could sit outside in the sun any time of day. I miss just sitting on our beautiful back patio in the sun with some wine watching my ducks that would come every year. I miss walking my dogs around the lake a few times a week. I miss going on night-time bike rides with my son.  I really miss my house :(

A lot of hard memories happened there as well...the debilitating struggle of being addicted to alcohol, so many days spent in bed feeling so sick and so mad at myself, many embarrassing drunken moments that left me filled with regret, many really nasty fights and so much drama between extended family members, so many days hiding in my study obsessing over my alcohol problems, some really tough times in my marriage including almost getting divorced, severe depression including shutting myself off from everyone and everything for almost 6 months. So much stress and worry about owning a house...two flooding incidents, dealing with terrible contractors, a terribly built deck with under decking that constantly leaked, this breaking, that leaking, this settling allowing water in, that falling apart, my brand new remodel starting to have problems. Everything building up around us. So many more people, houses, traffic, noise. It really wasn't the same anymore. Kind of tired of living in a cookie-cutter neighborhood with not much of a yard.

I have had dreams about that house for the last couple of months. I need to let it go. We made the decision to sell and move for many solid reasons - it was a great time to sell (we got almost 100,000 over the asking price) and we were eventually going to move to be closer to our daughter anyway, my mom was/is struggling with a couple of health issues - she is fine for now but eventually she wouldn't be and there is no way she could live in our house with the stairs. I have watched her take care of bother of her parents and my stepdad until they died, two of which had debilitating Alzheimers in the end. I will not put her in a home. I will take care of her. And finally, I talked to my financial advisor asking if we could retire in five years as we have been saving a ton of money in Roth IRAs and I am a teacher of 30 years and have PERA. He said we are right on track to retire at 65 but would run out of money if we retired any sooner. We are not working for 12 more years. My husband desperately wants to retire and have some land and a big garage. After a couple of months of analyzing, making pro and con spreadsheets, and talking to anyone that would listen....we decided to sell our house, move in with my mom (she lives in a 5500 sq ft house), save a bunch of money, pay cash for a house closer to my daughter, move her with us and retire. I really struggled with the decision, but made it and now need to accept it. I need to let it go. The house is not the memories. I will always have the memories. People move all the time. It will be ok. We will find something better. Living in my mom's house is temporary. We choose to do it for very good reasons. It will all work out in the end. I need to let that house go.

COVID - This last year was also the year of COVID. No one I know has gotten super sick but it has been incredibly scary. It has been hard to watch the news but yet I have been unable to turn away. Reading about cities having to burn bodies because the morgues are full, to watching the heartbreak of loved ones not being able to see sick or elderly family is all so sad. Personally, it has impacted our ability to go on vacation and to see my daughter. I am a teacher so we have been back and forth between hybrid and full remote all year. It is difficult for me but even harder for the kids and families of young children. I have been doing all of the shopping for my mom since March. It has been so busy with getting my mom's house ready for us to move in which was quite an undertaking to getting my house ready to put on the market to selling it to moving. On top of all that dealing with remote teaching and COVID. This year has been a lot.

Trump - This has been the time of Trump. I have been incredibly bothered having such an arrogant, selfish, childish leader of our country that has no regard for international relations, the destruction of the planet, or even basic human rights. Again I hate watching the news about him but just couldn't look away. Four years ago on my birthday, he was sworn in and it was not a great birthday. I waited 4 years for him to self-destruct and it finally happened with the attack on the Capital. Not only that but it has been a year of racial protests and police violence. Politically, 2020, was a dumpster fire. So much fighting and disagreement and hatred. Thank GOd this birthday was better with the election and final admitted defeat of the racists, elitist Trump. 

My mom's sorrow - My stepfather passed away last March. He had been super sick with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. She took care of him until the end at home. It had been a rough couple of years with the end being excruciating. This year has been so hard for her. Not only is she going through the grieving process but she can't go to church, she can't have lunch with her friends, she can't visit her relatives. She has been isolated, alone, and sad. I don't know how to help her. I just try to listen and understand. 

My husband's job - he was laid off in November due to the company outsourcing the who place. He had worked there for over ten years, was making really good money, and had a lot of vacation time. thank goodness we had already sold our house. He now has another job working nights which is terrible for his health. We will see how long he can handle it. I wish he would find something else. We are getting along pretty well right now. We hardly ever fight and are both working toward the same close to our kids, taking care of my mom, and retiring.

My kids are great! My son is a senior at an engineering school. He is so smart and dedicated. He will graduate in two years with a master's degree in mechanical engineering, a major in engineering physics, and a minor in computer engineering. He has been a huge help with the move and is so conscientious about COVID and his grandma. He worries a lot about a lot of stuff - politics, the planet, his dad, human rights, his grandma, asbestos in my mom's house, fossil fuels....He also has a boyfriend of a couple of years. He even told his grandma this year. Almost everyone in my family knows and accepts him for who he is. I am so glad he is happy and has someone that makes him happy. they are funny together...just two guys who never talk about emotions or the future or fight, no drama....they just get along like two friends that happen to love each other. My daughter is teaching in Alaska. She does not like living there and goes through periods of depression because she is away from her family, but she has a wonderful husband and a dog that is her whole world. She is such an amazing girl and I miss her terribly. We will live close to each other in the future. I am sure of it. 

My sisters - this area had improved over the last year. I am getting along as well as can be expected with both of them. It is a little uncomfortable sometimes but at least they are both talking to me even if they aren't talking to each other. I am trying really hard to not get caught up in any drama, not be oversensitive, not be so concerned about their is hard and I am not great at it but I am just trying to be the best person I can be in our relationships and leave it at that. I wish we could all just forget about the past and move on. It is killing my mom that they still aren't talking to each other but they are both too selfish to get over it. There is nothing I can do about it so I just have to not worry about it. 

And struggles with alcohol.....I am incredibly grateful to report....there are not any struggles! Even after everything that has happened in the last year I have not had one single serious craving to drink. The thought does come into my head every once in a while. Thoughts like...if I was still drinking I would it sad I can never drink on vacation again?....will I ever have friends as a sober person?.....will I ever feel like I fit in at work when I don't ever go to the happy hours?.....will I have cravings when everything calms down and I am bored?.....will I be able to find new friends when we move without drinking?....Is my life the life of an old person, setting puzzles with my mom on a Saturday night?....will I ever have a social life again that I enjoy and actually want?.....but none of these thoughts make me want to drink.....ever and I am very happy about that. If I can make it through this year without even a craving....that's pretty good. I think I have learned how to be busy and I have to practice being bored and sober.

What are my hopes for this year? Well, the same goal I have had for the past I don't know how many get back in shape - to work out, work on my yoga, meditate, get enough sleep, read more, watch less tv, eat well and drink more water. I really want to work this year on mental health as well. I am really trying to live in the moment. I want to focus on the hear and now instead of trying to plan and control my future. I want to just truly believe that things will work out the way they should without me trying to think of every possible scenario and make sure I try to control the road we go down. I just need to settle in at my mom's house, enjoy the lack of stress, save a bunch of money, not have sorrow for the past (selling my house, my kids growing up, the way our family used to be) or anxiety about the future (where are we going to live, when will we retire, will I live next to my kids, will we have enough money) and just be grateful for right now. 

I woke up on my birthday morning on Inauguration Day for Joe Biden and felt a great sense of hope...for our country, for the planet, for race relations, for international relations, for the end of COVID, for my mom's recovery, for our new journey towards retirement, for my sobriety, for my happiness. It was a good feeling.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

12/26/20 Past, Present and Future


I saw this quote this morning and it really spoke to me.  I AM SO BAD IN THIS AREA. I am getting better at not replaying scenarios from the past. Quitting drinking has really helped with this. Being sober has helped my anxiety immensely in this area. I still get sad about things, like selling my home of 23 years but I try to put it into perspective and know that I spent a great deal of energy and time last summer making sure it is what was best in the long run. I made the decision from a rational mind, did it, and need to move on.  It is also helpful that I don't regret my behavior anymore. Being sober has allowed me to be 100% present in the moment and in control of the things I say and how I act. Plus I am way less sensitive which helps.

The part that is still hard for me is not having to control the future. In my perfect world, my daughter and son both start families and live close to us. My immediate family has always been super close. I LOVE having my kids around and am heartbroken that my daughter currently lives in Alaska. My son is getting close to graduating college and I am not sure where he will end up. I so badly want us to live close to each other. I am trying so hard to make this happen....even to the point of selling my house so we can move closer to Alaska so that maybe my daughter would move and her husband would be closer to his family. This is what she wants but it isn't just up to her. My son also likes the Pacific Northwest so that is another plus to moving in that area but who knows where he will end up.  All of this gives me a lot of anxiety. I can no longer control where my kids live and how much time we spend together. As much as I is not in my control...which drives me crazy.

We are in Alaska right now visiting my daughter. I need to remain in the present moment. Enjoy this time with her. Not worry about if they are moving. Not trying to figure out where they would move to if they did move. My worrying about it does cause stress between her and her husband bc it is a touchy subject for them. I know she has to live her life and make her own decisions. With everyone else in my life, I am getting better about this. Just be the best person I can be in the moment and not worry about anyone else's opinions or decisions. I just can't seem to get there with my kids. I am so scared it won't turn out the way I want it to.

I need to just believe things will work out the way they are supposed to and just enjoy today. Maybe this will be by New Year's stop worrying and trying to control the enjoy the present moment and just believe everything will work out the way it should.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

12/20/20 - A lot has changed


Who so much has changed since last summer.....where do I begin.

Family - this area is better. Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know that there has been a lot of drama between me, my sisters, and our mother over the years. This area, for me, is better. I am getting along fine with my mom and my sister that didn't talk to me for years. The sister that has recently gotten mad at me has apparently forgiven me for reaching out to the other sister and is talking to me again. My two sisters are not talking to each other and one of my sister's relationship with our mom is strained, but I am on good terms with all of them.  I am learning, finally, that all I can do is focus on my try to be the best daughter and sister that I can be but not worry so much about what others think of me. As long as I am kind and considerate with everyone and try not to make my own judgments about others I am much happier. I am really working on not worrying about what they think about me. If they have a problem with me...they can either talk to me directly about it or it is their problem. As long as I am proud of my words and my behavior, I just can't worry about it. This is a huge step for me. I have spent my life obsessed with what other people think of me and experienced so much anxiety if everyone doesn't think I am a good person. I am trying to listen understanding more...defend myself empathetic towards others more...get people to feel sympathy toward me all comes down to patience both with myself and others.  It's not easy and I am not always successful but I am trying. It is about what makes me happy and peaceful inside not about what others think of me.  My kids and husband have noticed a huge change in me and have told me...which makes me so happy because no matter what I say....I care intensely what my daughter, son, and husband think of me. If they think I am a kind person....that is all I need. that won't ever change.

House sale - Since last summer so much has happened that has made us decide to sell our home of 23 years.  It is so hard and I am struggling with the loss of the home I loved so much as it is where I raised my many memories.  First, my stepfather passed away in March. My mom was living in this 5,000 sq foot house by herself and having some issues with her eyes and vertigo. She had fallen at her house. I was pretty worried about her living by herself.  She couldn't move in with us because we have stairs.  Second, we talked to our financial advisor about when we could retire. Because we had refinanced our house so many times to finish a basement, put on a deck, remodel the kitchen, pay for college, etc. we still owed like $300,000 on the house. I am a teacher of 30 years and we had been fully funding our IRA for 20 years. He said we are right on retire at 65. That is still 12 years for me and 8 for my husband. That was super hard to hear. I always thought we could retire when I was 55 and he was 60. If we didn't have a mortgage, we could retire but how to come up with $300,000??  Third, I miss my daughter an insane amount. She lives in Juneau with her husband and I don't ever see them moving to Colorado....maybe to a smaller town in the Pacific Northwest but not the overpopulated, expensive, far from his family, Denver area. Our house was also not great for them to visit...especially when they start a family.  Lastly, my husband has wanted to move for a while. He has always dreamed of having a few acres and a nice big garage that is all his. Sooo....after a couple of months of pro/con lists, thinking, worrying, processing, talking to anyone that would listen, going back and forth....we decided to sell our beloved home. It turned out great financially...we got $100,000 over asking!!! We had a newly remodeled home in a desirable area with great schools and sold it during a housing shortage. We had 75 showings and 18 offers in 2 was crazy. And.....moved in with my mom. I just made the most sense. She has a huge ranch with a walkout basement. We moved on November 30.

I am not going to has been difficult. On the one hand, I, and my kids, are heartbroken at the loss of our home. I loved my house. It was so bright and sunny, newly remodeled, had a south-facing backyard with a covered patio and waterfall. I could sit out there in the sun at any time of the year. We built that house and were the only owners. Every memory in that house we made, every plant - we planted, it had been my life for 23 years. My son is 22 and my daughter 26 so there are a lot of memroies. It has been difficult moving in with my mom at 52 years old. We have done our best to carve out a place of our own but it still her house...her things....her thermostat. Plus, my patience is really being put to the test while living with your mother again. Nothing against her...just not always super easy. Honestly, I am mostly struggling with how dark her house is. I definitely need natural light for my emotional well being. is temporary. My son graduates from a prestigious engineering school here close to us with 3 degrees (so he will be self-sufficient) in two years. That is when we will move.

On top of all that....COVID! Enough said about that!!!

The positive - we have zero debt! We have $350,000 in cash for a down payment on a new house. We will save a bunch of money over the next two years. The plan is to pay cash for a new house so no mortgage. We can retire in 3 years just as we planned. My mom will sell her house and move with us. I feel great about being there for her...being the daughter she was to her mother. Hopefully, my daughter will eventually move closer and my husband may get his dream of land and a garage/shop. My son likes the PNW so hopefully, we will all be close to each other. We will build this new life I have in my mind. 

And for the best news....after all of that....I am still sober! 2 1/2 years sober! I am so much better equipped to deal with all of these changes and stress now that I am sober. I would not have had the energy or mental capacity to make these changes if I was still caught up in my own self-imposed, selfish, obsessive, destructive, all-consuming, downward spiral of addiction. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

7/13/20 - Exhausted today but have a plan

I do not feel very good today. I feel kind of like when I used to drink. Last night I went to bed and my brain felt swollen like my ears were full. It is a weird feeling that I used to get all the time while suffering a hangover. I woke up at midnight with a terrible headache and had to get up and take some Tylenol. My weekend was very "bipolar-ish". I was texting with my sister Friday and Saturday (like 50 texts) which caused me an extreme amount of anxiety. I went from being sad and crying to angry to anxious. I spent the last three days in an obsessive manic talking spree to anyone that would husband, daughter, son, my other sister. Hours spent on the phone analyzing, discussing, obsessing, rationalizing, contemplating. Basically, the sister who is now mad at me told me that she will not have a relationship with me as long as I have a relationship with my other sister. Up to this point, I had just been waiting, for four months, as she needed time to come to terms with the fact that I had reached out to our other sister after a four-year estrangement. I just wanted to have a relationship with both of them. I was just sick of all the drama. Friday she told me she didn't need any more time and that she had "made peace" with the situation. That was heartbreaking to hear. How could she just throw away our relationship just bc I wanted to make up without our other sister. The two of them have a lot of pretty deep hurt, anger and conflict but it doesn't involve me. She felt like I should have "had her back" and that I betrayed her and out relationship by reaching out. I, btw, told her before I did it. It wasn't behind her back. I do not regret the decision I made bc my original motivation was to make amends for the six cousins involved. I was tired of them suffering because of adult problems. In the process, my sister and I made up.

I can't change the way she feels. I have tried/begged for her to forgive me and choose to still have a relationship with me. She will not. I can't change that. I can hope that someday she will come around, but I can't force it. There is nothing else I can do.

I just need to let it go!

There is a pretty big difference in the way I handled the situation after two years sober than how I might have before. In my texting with her, I was much more level headed. I didn't get super defensive, I ignored particularly hurtful things she said just to bait me into a reaction. I treated her with respect and kindness. I did say that I  thought she was being a bit selfish and immature but that is the only negative thing I said. I was just trying to get her to see that she does not have to look at herself as a victim. That she can choose to let go of her anger and still have a relationship with me.

What I still need to work on is to stop obsessing and letting myself get into this super anxious state that consumes me. I am beginning to be able to recognize my physical symptoms of anxiety now that I am not drinking and blaming it all on having a hangover. I get that swollen head feeling, I get kind of dizzy, I get super distracted, I talk at a frenzied pace...I just can't stop talking about it. I get a little bipolar where I either feel completely worn out, want to go to bed and do nothing or I am super hyper and a bit manic in my behavior. It is exhausting.

I need to let it go!

I need to get back to taking care of myself. Meditating, working out, doing yoga, reading, sleeping, drinking water, eating healthy and just thinking positively and having gratitude for the good things in my life. I need to focus on what makes me happy and content and peaceful. Things will work out...they always do.

I will let it go.

I am going to start this journal that I bought last January called Master Your Life by Kristen Race. It is all about doing something for 90 days and changing your routines, habits and mindset.  It's kind of like a daily planner/habit tracker/gratitude journal. I have started and stopped this journal four or five-time since January never holding to my commitment. I start school in a little over four weeks. I am going to commit to the next 30 days to do this planner every day. I am going to focus on my mental and physical health. I have got to get myself back.

Today I am just going to do as much as I can as I do not feel super great. I will meditate, work out, fill out my journal, make dinner, eat healthily, drink water, and maybe take a nap. That is enough for today and it is better than binge-watching 90 Day Fiance while eating popcorn and cereal all day.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

7/12/20 - Emotional Hangover

There is a little bit of new drama in my life I am working through right now. I have two sisters. We have always been super close or fighting. Rarely have all three of us been in a good place with each other at the same time. A few years ago we found out some things about one of my sisters that caused a huge divide in our family. She chose to move to another state and not talk to any of us for years. I developed a pretty good relationship with my other sister during this time. It wasn't perfect as we are very different but we weren't fighting. We had grown a bit apart over the past couple of years bc I was no longer drinking. I think drinking gave us common ground as we are both pretty different. When we were drinking we could look past that little bit of comfortableness that was there when we were hanging out. Anyways, we were good.  There are six cousins involved and my children were sad that they couldn't have a relationship with the two cousins that had moved so I decided, after four years, to reach out to the estranged sister so that they could see each other. No one else was going to do it. It was pretty hard. We had some very difficult conversations where we were both honest about our feelings. We each apologized for what we thought we should and agreed to let the rest go. This sister and I are much more alike and I really did miss her and her kids. I am so glad we have a relationship again and she doesn't drink that's a plus.

The conflict between my sisters is pretty deep and goes probably 30 years back. I don't know if they will ever be able to work things out. They can both be pretty stubborn. The problem is that the sister I have had a relationship with for the past four years now won't talk to me bc I made up with our other sister. She feels completely betrayed by me. She feels, "How could you make up with her after everything she has done to me. You turned your back on me and my kids. If you have a relationship with her, you can not have one with me." While I completely understand that I hurt her with my decision I do not regret it. I did what I felt was best for the kids and frankly for myself. I was sick of the conflict and drama. I just wanted to get along with everyone. If they had their conflict and chose to never makeup, that was their choice, but I chose to be happy, peaceful, not angry or resentful, and have a relationship with everyone in my family. I don't understand why she can't see that and still choose to have a relationship with me. We had a long conversation via text, as she won't speak to me in person, Friday night and yesterday morning. I have practically begged for her forgiveness and taken responsibility for hurting her but tried to make her see that she can choose to forgive me and have a relationship with me. She just won't do it. She says she has "made peace" with her decision and that she now needs to protect her family. I really don't understand that. Protect them from what?

I tried and tried and tried and cried but she isn't going to change her mind. I am heartbroken. I now have to come to terms with the fact that while I have a relationship with one of my sisters, I now do not have one with the other. It sucks! I don't understand why it has to be this way. Why can't I have a relationship with everyone? I talked to my daughter, son, and husband about it and I asked the question, "If I had to pick, who would I chose?" They said, "You chose the one that doesn't make you chose." I think that makes a lot of sense. I feel it is pretty selfish of her to stop speaking to me just bc of the decision I made. And she blames me for causing drama...I don't think so. I feel like she is being a little selfish and immature.

So today I woke up sad, confused, exhausted, headachy, and pretty numb. I don't know what else I can do. I will not choose. I chose both of my sisters. If she ever chooses to have me back in her life I will absolutely be happy about that with no hard feelings about some of the things she has said to me. I have to come to terms with the fact that she has to make that decision and that she maybe never will. I may never have a relationship with her again which is incredibly painful, but I can't do anything about it. I am a fixer but I can't fix this. The only way to fix it with her is to stop speaking to my other sister and in my heart that fixes nothing bc then I am still not in a relationship with one of them. It is only fixed for me if I have a relationship with both of them. I need to come to terms with the fact that I can't fix this and let it be. Hopefully she will change her mind in the future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

6/24/20 - Struggling a bit...blah...

I am struggling a bit with a lack of motivation, no inspiration, and some depression. I have gotten myself in a terrible habit of not doing anything productive during the day. I feel like I am just floundering. I don't know if it is because we have no vacations planned... I really look forward to going somewhere every summer. I don't know if it is because I really miss my daughter and don't know if I will see her before September.  I don't know if it is because I have been at home since March with very little human contact other than family. On top of that, I have one sister that isn't even speaking to me and has actually said some pretty hurtful things because I made amends with my other sister which is bothering me. I am so tired of all the drama, political drama, societal drama, this damned virus. Even though I am incredibly sick of it, I find myself becoming addicted to the news and tv in general. I find myself on a screen constantly either to check my news feed, to watch stupid tv, to mindlessly scroll through social media (which always makes me feel inadequate) or shopping, researching, and analyzing something on the internet. More times than not, I also then find myself eating crappy food while doing so.  And then I can't sleep which just makes me more tired the next day. I feel just a lack of joy for life. I have all these big plans to change and get myself in shape and finish projects, but the days just seem to pass and I do nothing but sit. I don't know how to get myself out of this lackluster spot. 

I think what I need to do is not "think" my way out of it but "do" my way out of it.  This is what finally allowed me to stop drinking. I went to therapy and IOP...even if I didn't feel like I wanted to. I need to get up and work out, do my projects, get stuff done...even if I don't feel like it. 

I just feel so blah. I need to shake this feeling because it is getting really depressing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

6/17/20 - 2 years sober!

I can't believe it...two years sober! When I was in my depths of despair, struggling with desperately wanting to quit but being terrified of not being able to find joy in life while sober I never thought I would be able to say "two years sober". I was so jealous of all the sober happy people out there but I just could never seem to maintain my sobriety longer than a couple weeks or months.

I am so thrilled to say, "I am sober AND happy!" It is possible. It takes some time and some perseverance but it can be done. For the first year of sobriety, I struggled with fear, depression and loneliness.  Unfortunately, I didn't really experience the "pink cloud" in the early days. I think this was because I had already experienced the rewarding feeling of waking up every day without a hangover or regrets of my behavior the night before so many times in the past only to fail a few weeks later and slide back into drinking. It was almost like I had given up on the pink cloud because I was afraid it wouldn't last anyway and it wasn't a novel experience anymore.

I spent the first three months being terrified, asking for help, going to IOP every day for 3 hours for 6 weeks, and learning all I could about my addiction. The biggest thing I learned in IOP was that even though I wasn't a daily drinker, hadn't had a DUI, hadn't lost my job, or my thinking patterns were the same as everyone else in the group that was "worse" than me. I was on that path. I was starting to sneak drinks, drink in the morning to try to feel better (only twice and it didn't even work...but still), have angry outbursts while drunk, get super emotional and overshare with people, embarrass myself, not remember everything, not respect my husband when he said he wanted to leave, etc. I had spent so many years battling this mental addiction in my own head but now it was starting to rear its ugly head publicly and I was starting to show behaviors that scared me. When I listened to the people in my group that had lost everything, that were daily drinkers/drug users, that were in legal trouble, I didn't look at them like "that's not me...I'm not that bad" like I would have in the past. I looked at them like "I have the same mental struggle as them, I recognize myself in them, alcoholism is a slow, progressive disease and that will be me if I don't stop drinking."

After IOP and I started a new school year, I am not going to lie, it wasn't easy. I switched schools which was super difficult because I was new and having a hard time connecting with people. I couldn't do my usual of going out with colleagues to drink on Friday and then having that comradery on Monday laughing about all the fun we had. I really wasn't sure where/if I even fit in. I found myself becoming very insecure without my social assistant of alcohol. I just avoided all social situations because I was afraid they would just suck. I really do think I have some pretty severe social anxiety now that I don't drink. I am not sure I ever learned how to socialize sober as I had been a weekend party drinker since I was 18. I was also constantly looking for external validation. I was having a hard time even believing in myself as a good teacher without someone telling me I was. I was incredibly insecure which I had never been in this area before.

The same was true with my friends. No one called me anymore. Maybe it was me..that I always called first to make plans so I could drink, maybe they didn't change at all, but I was super lonely. I didn't feel like I even had any friends anymore. I felt like no one liked me anymore now that I didn't drink. I am sure that isn't true but was also feeling terribly insecure in this area as well. No one even checked on me to see how I was doing. I was sad. So I had no support at work, I had no friends anymore, I had nothing to do on the weekends, and my family was kind of a mess as my sisters and I were still having problems. My daughter moved away and my son was a college. I become pretty depressed. These feelings weren't new as I had them every time I quit. Loneliness, boredom, insecurity and social anxiety are always what caused me to start drinking again in the past.

Incredibly, I didn't want to start drinking again. This was a first! I think the IOP journey had opened my eyes to what I could become if I didn't quit and I knew how miserable I had been for years trying to quit so drinking wasn't an option. That was a new feeling and I was incredibly grateful I wasn't having cravings. Plus my husband, kids, and family were so incredibly supportive and proud of me for quitting. I did not want to lose that.  Although I was proud of myself, I am not sure it would have been enough. The love and support of my family and knowing how proud they were of me....THAT is what got me through.

So year one, was just staying sober, sitting on my couch, feeling insecure at work, and being pretty lonely. Year two I decided I need to take action to not feel so lonely. Slowly I have tried to get out of my comfort zone. I have begun to take the time to reach out to friends we had back in high school. It was terrifying at first as I have never socialized with them sober and didn't know what they would think. Like everything else, it has been just fine...great actually. They still drink and I am fine with that and we still talk and laugh and support each other. I am really enjoying having sober conversations with people where I am truly listening to what they say instead of always thinking about what I am going to say next and just waiting for them to pause. I am really listening and asking questions and actually remembering what they say so I can ask them about it later. It feels really nice to be a calm sober listener rather than a hyper, buzzed talker. I think I always drank more than any of them but never saw it. When buzzed, I always thought that everyone else was on the same level as me...I am realizing that was not the case which is a bit embarrassing but helps me stay sober as I don't want to be that person anymore. My family has even told me that I was always drunker than everyone else and they knew I had a problem for a long time. I NEVER knew they thought that.

I am also trying to make time to get together with a neighbor I have always felt a deep connection with. She is not much of a drinker so I never really gave her much of my time and energy in the past because I would rather be drinking, but I really like her so have been trying. She is such a good listener and super supportive so I need to keep trying.

I am realizing it takes effort and energy on my part. It is so easy to sit on my couch, watch Netflix and do nothing. I can't just sit around waiting for someone else to call me and feeling sorry for myself when it doesn't happen. Everyone is busy and time just slips away. I have realized that people not reaching out to me is not personal. Everyone has their own stuff they are dealing with and time passes. I need to make the effort because it is what I need. I need to meet my own needs, not wait around for others to meet my needs.

I have made a couple of friends at work that I have actually shared with that I don't drink. One of these is super nice and supportive and is an attentive friend, which I have found I need. She texts me every morning to see if I worked out...kind of an accountability coach. She is going to help me climb my first fourteener later this summer. She is a super kind person and I want to develop my relationship with her further.

I have reconciled with one of my sisters. I put my own feelings aside for the cousins and it resulted in us reconnecting which feels really good. My other sister is now not talking to me but I am confident we will also get through it and re-establish our relationship as well. My relationship with my mother, husband, and kids has never been better. I am so much less focussed on me and my problems that I can finally focus on what other people's needs which, ironically, makes me happy. This year has been extremely uncomfortable and scary but worth it. It just feels really good. I feel really good.

The other thing that has kept me going these past couple of years is the change I have seen in myself. Physically, I feel so much better. My anxiety level is a million times better. I never have night sweats or heart palpitations anymore. I sleep SO MUCH better. I can't emphasize that enough. Even on nights when I don't sleep well I still feel better than when I was drinking. I may feel physically tired but I don't have the mental fog/grouchiness/anxiety I used to have when not getting enough sleep.

Emotionally, I feel like a different person. I think it might be true as my family has noticed a huge shift in this area as well. I feel calmer, gentler (if that makes sense).  I don't obsess about stuff as much. I still get in that OCD loop but I am much better at dragging myself out. I just don't get as overwhelmed and stressed out. I am not nearly as sensitive and volatile in my emotions...much more even keel. I may not get a hyper as I  used to be but I also don't get as emotional or agitated either. With the high highs came the low lows which just weren't worth it anymore.  I am able to be there for everyone all the time at any moment. There have been a few scary incidents this past year, one that involved taking my husband to the ER at 2:00 am. I can't even express how grateful I am that I was sober and able to deal with that. My son was home and as terrified as I was. I don't know if I could have forgiven myself if I would have been drunk and he had to deal with that/drive us there. There have been a few occasions like that and I just feel like a more responsible person when I am sober. It is an incredible feeling. Drinking was so selfish. All I cared about was having my drinks on the weekends. To never have to worry about if I can drive or what if this happens or that happens or whatever and I am too drunk to deal with it is a very freeing feeling.

I am also way better at dealing with conflict. I am better at not having to justify and explain my every decision to everyone. I used to be obsessed with making sure everyone at least understood my perspective if not also agreeing with it. I think it came from insecurity in myself. I was on a constant quest for external validation because I didn't value myself. It was exhausting. Now I can make a decision and as long as I know it was the right decision for me and I feel like I am a good person, it doesn't matter as much what anyone else thinks. I am so much more emotionally stable than I have ever been. I used to be convinced that my perspective was right all the time and if someone didn't see something the way I did, it was my job to get them to see it my way. Looking back, that seems incredibly self-centered and egotistical. I now realize that everyone does not see things the same way I do and (1) that is OK and (2) doesn't make then wrong. All I can do is be the best person I can be. Everyone else needs to "do them." I just need to "do me." If I am happy with me and feel like I am treating others with kindness, I am ok even if other people aren't ok with me. Don't get me wrong, it still bothers me a great deal but I am learning to be patient and let things work themselves out without having to force control everything. I am learning I am a bit of a control freak...I am also working on that.

My goals for year three are to finally get my self-care in shape. To really work on working out, doing yoga, meditating, eating a mostly plant-based diet while eliminating sugar and junk food, and getting tasks completed around the house. Maybe actually even finishing a book! I spend way to much time on my computer, my phone and in front of the TV. Netflix saved me my first year but is killing my motivation now! I have become very lazy and am having a hard time sticking to a schedule. I go down these rabbit holes of distraction constantly in front of a screen and lose entire days. I start off the day knowing what I want to get done and then doing none of it and eating crappy on top of that.  I still find myself struggling with the all or nothing mentality.  "Well, this day is already shot so I might as well make some popcorn and then eat some ice cream while binge-watching something completely stupid on Hulu like Love Island. Maybe I won't even shower today" embarrassing and ridiculous.

My other goal is to keep my social progress going. It won't take care of itself. Keep reaching out, working on relationships, connecting with more people, maybe find something to volunteer doing. I have been asked to interview to become a CASA - court-appointed special advocate. Or maybe get another job as an adjunct professor at a local university. I have been emailing someone about that also. I hope to retire in a couple of years so I could use the money. Thank goodness I quit drinking before I retired. That would have been a disaster. Now I have to get this social, self-care piece worked out before retirement.

This may have all sound awfully braggy, but I really am proud of myself and have a right to say it LOL! I am such a better person sober. I do still get sensitive and grumpy and selfish and lazy and controlling and overwhelmed and have terrible social anxiety bordering on panic attacks that I have to work through but I am working on it. Now that I am not using all my mental energy trying to get sober, I can work on other things.

Surprisingly, I noticed a lot of people have checked my blog lately, maybe to see if I made it to year two. I just want to tell you that sobriety is possible and not only that....happiness in sobriety is possible. I would have never believed it two years ago and I wasted ten years fighting it, not believing it was possible (after 20 years of loving drinking). If you are in that lonely dark place I was, don't waste any more time fighting it. I can't believe I am saying it...but living sober is so much better. Close you eyes and imagine you feeling better than you have ever felt, emotionally and physically. Imagine being so proud of yourself and the pride you feel knowing everyone else is so proud of what you have done. Now open your eyes and realize that is it so completely possible. Don't waste all those years, fighting it like I did. Give in to the fact that addiction to alcohol is always stronger as long as you are trying to control it. Addiction always wins as long as you are engaging with it. The only way to win is to give it up completely... don't feed it as it only gets hungrier and eats away your soul.  An old high school friend, the one I was worried about the most, whispered  to me last weekend when no one else could hear....."I am so proud of you. It took a lot of courage to admit you had a problem and so much strength to do something about it." I cried :)  Anything is possible.

Onward and upward! Things can only get better from here! I have an amazingly supportive husband, the best son and daughter anyone could ever ask for, a rewarding career that I love and friends and family that love and care about me. Life is good :)