Monday, December 31, 2018

12/31/18 - A Look Back

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

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

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

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

I wrote this is June after the last time I drank

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2018

12/27/18 - almost 7 Months

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

I am actually doing pretty well.

The positives:

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