Sunday, February 25, 2018

Month 2 - Lotus Blossom 2/25/18

Well this month marks month two.  I said in the previous post that I was going to treat myself to a charm bracelet every month for the first year as a reward and a reminder of why I have chosen to remain on this path of sobriety. I am not going to say it is a reward for choosing this path. I have chosen sobriety at least 10 times in the last few years, some last for months (the longest being 10 months).

I am rewarding myself for choosing to remain on my path of sobriety. I now know, without a doubt, this is the right path for me....I just need to stay on it.

Last month I chose the triskelian charm to represent interconnected  - drinking negatively effects every aspect of my life

This month I chose the lotus flower. I wanted it to be a positive charm since last month was meant to remind me of the negative that alcohol brings.  The lotus charm represents rebirth.  A beautiful flower that grows out of the muck.  How all of the pain alcohol has caused me in the past has allowed me to become who I want to be...who I know I can be.

Image result for alex and ani lotus blossom bracelet

Monday, February 19, 2018

Month 1 present- Triskelion - 2/19/18

On the mmabsers list there was a post from "Bay" announcing her one year of sobriety which really inspired me.  I have thought about her post a lot this weekend.  I so desperately want to be able to say that.  She does something that I think is totally awesome and am going to copy (thanks Bay).  Every month of her first year of sobriety, she bought herself and Alex and Ani charm bracelet as a reward and reminder of her journey.  I love this idea so I decided to be a copy cat haha :) I definitely spent at least $25 a month on alcohol so the cost is justifiable.

After searching for the meaning of the many charms, here is the one I chose for month 1:

Image result for alex and ani triskelion

The triskelion or” triskele” is also known as the tri-spiral or “Spiral of Life.” The three spirals in the triskelion are interconnected with no open ends thus creating one continuous line. Each spiral turns in the same direction. The three spirals represent balance, harmony and continual motion indicative of the  flow of life and of the Earth in her seasons and cycles.  Source

This charm represents the fact that everything in life is connected.  This is so important for me to remember. Yes, I could have a drink and yes, I could maybe keep is at a level that doesn't cause me to have a hangover the next day (hangovers were the driving reason I quit in the first place) but it is so much more than that. Alcohol has a negative effect on all aspects of my life. If I add alcohol to one of the spirals (one night of having a couple beers), it circles around and saturates all the other spirals (all other aspects of my life and well being). It effects my motivation to work out and eat well, my level of depression, obsession, anxiety and sensitivity, my quality of sleep, my relationships, my ability to be fully present in my life, my self esteem. Putting alcohol in my system permeates everything in my life. It is so much more than just avoiding a hangover. It is about what kind of life I want to live.

When I am in a difficult situation and want to drink, I will hold on to that charm to remind myself of the negative impact alcohol has on all areas of my life and that the couple of hours of drinking in which I may very well feel happy, relaxed and socially more comfortable...just isn't worth all the negative it will bring. It is all connected.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week 8 - Let's have a drink

This week was pretty uneventful in terms on drinking. My daughter came to visit which kept me pretty busy but also is a great motivator to not drink. She is 23 and does not drink. She also doesn't like it when I do only because I have been pretty open with her in the last few years with my struggle in an attempt to help her not go down the same path.  I was in such a different place than her in terms of drinking at age 23.  I am so happy for her that she chooses not to drink.  She does once or twice a year, but she is a binge drinker like me (might as well make it worth it) and then pays a heavy price the next morning. She just doesn't put in her body often enough (unlike me - every weekend when I was her age and for 25+ plus years after) that she hasn't gotten addicted, her tolerance hasn't been affected, she hasn't learned to cope with every social situation by drinking, it hasn't become a habit.  I hope I helped her have some insight in this area about how addictive it can be mentally and how easily it is to fall into the pattern of drinking all the time which for me eventually led to obsession, depression and addiction.

As you know, I will be teaching at a new school next year - moving from elementary to middle school as all of our 6th grades are moving up. I have been at my current school 17 years.  This will be a huge change for me. In the past, when starting at a new school, my default has been to make sure I socialize by going out to the Friday social events and drinking.  I am realizing about myself, that I have always either tried to hang out with the cool "kids" or be the cool "kid". The way I did this was by drinking. I really am pretty fun when drinking and I was always willing to drink as long as someone else did.  I never bailed out early. This is how I felt like I gained my popularity and acceptance. Being able to talk about the funny things that happened the previous Friday night felt like I was in an exclusive cool group that had so much fun. Being able to talk about the brewery I went to over the weekend or even calling myself an "IPA girl" made me feel pretty cool.  Why is that? Why has alcohol been my way to socially connect with people? Even to the point that I never went out of my way to talk to people that I knew didn't drink. Kinda snobby on my part but I guess I just didn't feel like I had anything in common with them - and they weren't the cool "kids".

Well...I am fifty now and it might be time for me to grow up :).  Being the drunk 50 year old at work parties is not "cool" anymore. It's kind of pathetic. I remember being in my 20s and 30s and watching the 50+ year old at parties.  I thought they were kind of alright because they drank but certainly didn't think they were cool.  Man..I have been a judgmental snot in my past. I am a little nervous about the pull of using alcohol to help me "break the ice" and form connections with all these new people. Alcohol has always been my "accommodation" as we say in elementary school to overcome my "disability" of social anxiety and my ridiculous obsession with being liked. Accommodations are used with students to "even the playing field" for them in the learning environment. My accommodation has always been alcohol. It "levels my playing field" in the social environment.

I have to figure out a different way this time. My teammate, who is going to the same school, said on Friday....."Well, they better buy me a drink at the end of this year as I have been at this school a long time." What am I going to do in that situation. I have so many friends at my current school. So many people I have had so much fun drinking with. I know they will all want to go out and buy me drinks at the end of the year. I need a plan.....

We also got an email from the our new school talking about a Friday in March that the principal wants us to go over there to meet everyone and "go out for a drink" afterwards. I need a plan....

I do have a couple of challenges coming up. I don't want to drink, but I also can't skip out on these commitments. I need a plan....

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week 6 - Celebrations and Struggles 2/11/18

Week 6!

Celebrations - I am just plugging along sober, learning how to do weekends differently.  I am really not having any cravings. For the first time in a long time, being sober feels like the new normal.  I really don't even think about it and when I do - don't want it.  We went to the Melting Pot for my birthday yesterday. I had a no-hito which was delirious!  I think that I have so many months and different experiences being sober under my belt now that it is getting easier. I did the Melting Pot sober a couple of years ago. That time was extremely stressful and I was so mad I couldn't drink. But I didn't and it was fine, so this time I new I could do it and didn't even want to drink. The more experiences I have sober, the easier it gets to do them again without drinking. I think my sober muscles are getting stronger.

I am finally starting to sleep better and therefore am beginning to have that smile on my face when I wake up in the morning. Every time I try to moderate and then stop again, the time it takes for this to happen increases. It used to be a couple weeks, then a month, this time nearly 6 weeks. I was worried it wouldn't return, but I am starting to feel it.

I have lost 7 pounds :).  Always an added bonus.

Struggles - Actually none right now! I really am perfectly at peace with not drinking - no cravings at all.  Of course I am a little concerned about having cravings as the weather warms up.  Over my my different long term sobriety attempts, the spring months (and summer) are definitely the most difficult for me.  I have not been sober during the entire month of May (except when pregnant) for 33 years.  I guess this is the year. I have to experience that first May sober (as hard as it may be) just to know that I can.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

My love hate 33 year relationship with alcohol 2/4/18

I know I shouldn't live in the past and over analyze but looking at my history with alcohol really does help me put into perspective how long I have been fighting this. I am going to read this post the next time I want to drink to remind myself of the misery it has caused me.

1985-2003 (age 17-35) - Drank and loved it - 18 years
Drank only on the weekends - but drank a lot. Party girl of the group. Party planner/hostess. Super social, happy, thought I was awesome! Super disciplined about working out, only drinking on the weekends. Got a bachelors degree, maters degree, new house, new cars, had two beautiful children, moved into a fantastic family neighborhood full of parent drinkers just like me. Had hangovers but they went away quickly. Sometimes embarrassed myself, but we all did. No guilt or shame or struggle around alcohol. My kids were both under 10 years old so didn't think my weekend neighborhood partying was effecting them. They just got to play with all their friends every weekend while we drank. Life was amazing!

2003-2010 (age 35-42) - Drank but started noticing I had a problem - 7 years
Hangovers started getting increasingly worse. This is actually what made me start looking at my much and how often.  I was getting tired of wasted days on the couch telling my kids I had the flu or trying to drag myself to commitments I had made feeling miserable because of drinking the night before. I still wanted it all, but the hangovers were just getting worse and worse.  I tried to cut back, to drink less but was really struggling so I started searching around on the internet.

April 2010 - December 2011 - Drank but started realizing I had a problem - 1 year 8 months
This period was when I started to look at my drinking.
Blogging, reading, really paying attention to my inability to control my alcohol assumption and asking myself some really tough questions about addiction. Still a secret.. Only I knew of the struggles I was going through. This time included the following milestones.
  • April 2010 - I found Moderation Management - This was a support group full of people just like me that struggled to control alcohol.  I was amazed at how own personal struggle was not unique. These people felt the exact same way. So I bought the book, followed the rules, counted all my drinks and really tried to find my stop button on the weekends either by not drinking 3 days in a row or not having more than 3 drinks. 
  • June 7, 2011 - Started my blog - was posting constantly to the support group and found that writing about my struggles helped me work through it and keep track of how I was doing. I wanted to keep a journal but NO ONE knew of my struggles with alcohol and I was terrified they would find my written words so I started my secret cyber journal that no one could find. I was living in my own little hell at this point of trying to control this drug that I have now (barely) admitted to (only) myself is a problem. But I started being accountable - at least to myself - by keeping track.
Here is an example of my obsession with counting and keeping track:

Binge is anything over 3
Apr 2010 - 9 binges - unsuccessful 21 day abs attempt
May 2010 - 5 binges - 16 abs days 
June 2010 - complete WTF - didn't even count or care
July 2010 - 14 binges - 9 abs
Aug 2010 - 11 binges - unsuccessful 14 day abs attempt
Sept 2010 - 10 binges - 2 unsuccessful 5 day abs attempts
Oct 2010 - 9 binges - 3 unsuccessful abs attempts 
Nov 2010 - 8 binges - 4 unsuccessful abs attempts 
Dec 2010 - 8 binges -  4 unsuccessful abs attempts 

New year - New ME!! (that is what I wanted)

Jan 2011 - 0 binges (tried the whole month - failed at day 13) - 18 day abs
Feb 2011 - 5 binges
Mar 2011 - 7 binges
Apr 2011 - 5 binges 
May 2011 - 6 binges 
June 2011 - 6 binge 
July 2011 - 9 binges 
Aug 2011 - 5 binges  - 2 unsuccessful 26 day abs attempt - abs for 14 day stretch 
Sept 2011 - 7 binge  -  61 unsuccessful 25 day abs attempts 
Oct 2011 - 4 binge -  25 abs days (separated by binges)
Nov 2011 - 5 binges -  unsuccessful 17 day abs attempt - 19 days abs
Dec 2011 - 4 binges - 20 abs days

Average of 5-6 binge days per month for 2010
Average # of days between binges - 10 days (usually 6-8 days - duh!! every weekend) - 2011
16 unsuccessful abs attempts (between 4 days and 30 days) - 2 successful 4 day attempts
  • August 2011 - Found mmabsers- 17 months after I found Moderation Management and had been failing miserably at trying to live by all of the "moderation" rules, I ran across a post from a subgroup of Moderation Management called mmabsers. This was a group of people who, just like me, had tried in vane to control alcohol and had decided to give it up and were actually happy?!?!? I was dumbfounded. First of all - give up alcohol? Impossible! How does a person even want to do that unless you are the proverbial rock bottom drunk which I certainly was not. Why would you want to never drink again? And how the hell were they happy?!?!?! I just couldn't fathom in my wildest dreams how that could even be possible. They must have been way worse than me when they stopped. They must have lost everything and not had any choice. I was honestly in a state of confusion. Then I started listening to them from the shadows. Many of them weren't any worse than me or were only a short distance from my near future. They just decided to stop the struggle to live without a stupid drug they were addicted to. I was baffled by this idea, but somewhere deep down it took root. Could this be me? Could I be this happy without it? I really doubted it but the thought (hope I guess) remained.

December 26, 2011 to March 17, 2012 - First attempt at long term sobriety -  87 days sober
I quit because I really wanted to see if I could and what it felt like.
This time was my first attempt at longer than a weekend once I started to realize I had a problem.  I was so proud of going 87 days. This was my first sober Christmas Day, New Year's Eve (I seriously never thought that would happen) and birthday in 25 years. All the sober feeling were so new and weird. I was on the pink cloud like a baby soberiesta.

I drank again because I thought I was cured.
I felt so proud of myself for abstaining for longer than I ever thought I could. I could go back to moderating.  If I had a serious problem I wouldn't have been able to stop. I didn't look at trying again as failure.

April 2012 - August 2012 - Drank but knew I might have a problem - 5 months
Eventually returning to hangovers, depression, exhaustion, obsession, insomnia and anxiety.
During this period I did well in the beginning but by June was really starting to notice a problem. I was even starting to drink during the week, which really concerned me. I couldn't say no to myself and I was having a hard time stopping at two or three once I started. I was also starting to research the role alcohol played in causing depression, anxiety and insomnia. I started to wonder if alcohol could be causing me to be so unhappy all the time. I was also noticing that my dreaded hangovers were becoming more of a four day event. The hangovers and anxiety were steadily increasing. I was becoming confused and baffled at the fact that I wasn't able to control it.

August 1, 2012 - April 14, 2013 - 255 days sober 
I quit because my drinking patterns were really starting to scare me.
Especially after a family trip to the mountains as shown in this post Total Fail from August 2012. My drinking was increasingly becoming out of control and I was scared. I did not want to be like this.

I drank again bc I caved to a craving. 
I wanted wine with my sister at a nice restaurant. It was spring and I was super scared of a sober summer. I had an overwhelming craving/anxiety attack that I gave in to. I battled myself in that restaurant for at least 20 minutes - like I felt like I ws sweating and shaking with anxiety. It ws a kind of out of body experience. I couldn't even hear or focus on the conversation around me because I was seriously fighting a war in my head. Should? Shouldn't I? You've been doing so well.  It will be ok. You can moderate, Just do it! Don't do it! I did it. I did well moderating for a while but eventually found myself with back in the familiar place of drinking to much, too many weekends in a row, having hangovers and being depressed, exhausted, obsessed, anxious and unhappy.

April 2013 - January 2015 - Drank and tried desperately to control the problem- 1 year 9 mon
Only posted 7 times which means I was probably not doing very well. I tend to just disappear from my blog when I on't want to face reality. This time included the post Disastrous Holiday from January 2014. I was so done and didn't even make it 30 days.

This time period also included one of my darkest two week period in August 2014 as shown in this post Struggling.I was just ending a summer of over drinking culminating with a 13 day vacation with my sister at a house she was at in another state. I was drinking (including sneaking) everyday and having unbearable anxiety/hot flashes/panic attacks/insomnia/heart palpitation in the night just to get up and do it again the next day.  This might have been the closest time that I say myself becoming the vision of what an alcoholic is in my brain. Sure I had drank like this for 4 or 5 days in the past (vacation in Punta Cana or on a house boat in Lake Powell) but this was different. This was desperate, by myself, hiding drinking. And I was exhausted when I got home. I was done. But didn't last more than 30 days. How could I be so sure I was done time and time again and still fail. Really becoming frustrated and just beating myself feeling like a total failure.

January 1, 2015 - March  6, 2015 -  64 days sober 
I quit because ... well just read this post...January 6, 2015 
Wow! I had forgotten how bad it was! How quickly I forget how bad it always gets.  I need to read this post the next time I have a craving. I was so desperate to end this debilitating mental battle in my head that I was constantly losing.

I drank again bc I felt isolated, depressed and felt sorry for myself.
I couldn't hang out and drink on the weekends.  I think I was pissed that I couldn't successfully moderate - that I hadn't tried hard enough. When I gave in (bc it was sunny, it was spring and the neighbors were calling me),  I was like, "Screw it...this sucks...I will try harder to moderate." 

March 2015 -June 2017 -Drank and again tried desperately to control the problem -2 yrs 2 mon
Eventually returning to hangovers, depression, exhaustion, obsession, insomnia and anxiety.
When I looked at my posts from this 50 month period, it is full of miserable suffering, trying and trying and trying to moderate and always failing and feeling terrible including a disastrous trip to Vegas 12/2015. Tried using naltrexone to take the joy out of drinking to see if that would help me moderate. Post after post after post of hellacious hangovers, broken promises to myself, misery and endless struggles to control an addiction.

June 21, 2017 - October 29, 2017 - 134 days sober
I quit because I was just sick of it. 
I didn't have a hangover but was just sick of how alcohol was robbing me of joy. I decided while I was on a walk on a beautiful trail in Juneau with my family and all I could think about was where we were going to lunch, trying to manipulate the decision so it was somewhere I could drink. I just realized I couldn't relax and have fun without it anymore and it was keeping me from enjoying things that I used to love because it just made me somewhat depressed all the time (even without a hangover).

I drank again because I caved to a craving. 
My sister just bought a new house with a great back deck that I longingly wanted to sit on, in the sun, and drink wine. I was sad that that would never happen.  In a split second I just said  "I'm having a glass of wine" (in a kind on "damnit" sort of way). It was a kind of rebellious feeling toward everyone who had a "are you sure?" look on their faces and towards myself. Kind of - this is stupid, you aren't that bad. It will be fine. I didn't even battle with myself, I just got a glass of wine as quickly as I could before I changed my mind.

October 2017 - December 2017 - Drinking and knowing I shouldn't - 2 months
Eventually returning to hangovers, depression, exhaustion, obsession, insomnia and anxiety.

December 29, 2017 - 37 days and counting (hopefully forever) (age 50 btw)
I quit because I can not longer enjoy my life without it.
I gave in and surrendered to the fact that I CAN NOT be a normal drinker. I have been fighting this for too long. I give up...I give in...I will try something different. I wasn't going to drink on our vacation to the mountains and I didn't the first coupe of days. Then I did. I told myself I wouldn't drink bc the next day was my daughters birthday was the next day. She doesn't drink and is so proud of me when I don't. And I drank. I couldn't even be sober that one day for her birthday. I didn't drink too much or get drunk but I still drank when I told myself I wouldn't. I just realized it is just too hard to fight it. I will never win. I will have faith in everyone who says sobriety is better, and try it for one year.

Well there it love/hate relationship with my drug of choice...the almighty, powerful alcohol.
I really am done letting it have power over me...I will regain my power.