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 :)

Monday, April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020 The good and the struggles

The good

I have been sober for almost two years.  I NEVER thought I could stay sober this long and I am so proud of myself.

I am thankful that I really don't crave alcohol anymore. I still miss what alcohol gave me - release, connections, a good time, something to look forward to, the high highs of the anticipation and the buzz - but I don't crave the drug itself. I do struggle with depression still, but my anxiety is way better. I don't think about it, want it, contemplate having it, struggle with urges...none of that. I don't wake up in the middle of the night sweating with heart palpitations, wondering how badly I had embarrassed myself the night before. I don't beat myself up for days about more broken promises to myself. I do not obsess about alcohol anymore which I am incredibly grateful for.

I am also so much better equipped to deal with life now. I feel like I have so much more control over my emotions. For example, I don't know if you remember but one of my sisters and I had a huge falling out with our other sister over four years ago. It was incredibly traumatic and has been so difficult for me to not have any connection with her but especially with her kids. She did some pretty mean things and I had a very hard time dealing with it. I obsessed,  typed essay length texts and then never send them, cried for many months, lost sleep, etc. My emotions were out of control. I was drinking then. Even though there were plenty of good reasons for what happened to happen, four years later it just seemed stupid. We are three sisters in our 50's ridiculous. When my daughter cried to me that she missed her niece and nephew I had had enough. I was done with it and swallowed my pride, reached out and stopped the stupid drama. I did and am so thankful to have her and her kids back in my life. In doing so, now the other sister, who I have had a relationship with for the past four years, will not only not speak to me but is being super mean saying things like, "Have a nice life" which is incredibly hurtful. Even though I am incredibly hurt by her words, I am dealing with all of this so much better than I did when I was drinking. The biggest change is that I do not get triggered as easily. I know she is saying really mean stuff and trying to make me feel guilty like I threw our friendship away by making up the other sister. She is trying to upset me, otherwise, she wouldn't bring saying such hurtful things. I seriously just don't get as mad. Of course, it bothers me a lot and I really hope we get through this, but I can see things a bit more objectively now. I am confident in the decision I made even though I know it hurt her which I have sincerely apologized for more than once. She is just going to have to decide if she wants to forgive me and have me in her life. There isn't anything else I can do. I am less sensitive and don't take things as personally as I did when I was drinking. As you know, I only drank on the weekends but that drinking wreaked havoc on my emotions every day of the week.

The struggles

I am currently struggling with insecurity. I don't know why but all of a sudden I am in need of recognition and constant validation that I am doing a good job - especially professionally. I have gotten better in my personal life around this but worse in my professional life.  I have never been like this. I am a good teacher - I know that. I go above and beyond for my students and take my job really seriously. I find myself getting super resentful of teachers who are lazy and don't do anything. This has especially gotten bad for me with this remote learning. I seriously work 7 hours a day teaching and helping kids understand the material. When I hear that other teachers aren't even giving assignments, it just irks me. And then this need for validation is driving me crazy. Like - isn't anyone noticing how hard I am working. I don't think so. Then I go to...then why even bother. Why? Why, in my 50s, do I have this need to be recognized or acknowledged for how hard I work? I used to say I am not going to drink today. Now I say I am not going to send any emails looking for validation by trying to kind of passively point out what I am doing. Why can't me knowing that I am doing a good job be enough? Why does my sense of value need to come from the outside?

My other struggle is still the same as what it was two years ago. I am lonely. I need to make some friends and do stuff. I had made this a goal and even started a "tribe" of four friends. We were going to read books, have lunch, just talk. Then all the stay at home orders came and it all kind of stopped. I miss my daughter incredibly badly. She lives far from me and we are so alike and enjoy many of the same things. My husband and I are fine we just have different interests. He still enjoys having his couple of beers on the weekends but tries to respect me by not drinking around me so we end up just watching tv in different rooms. My son is remote learning for college at home which is nice, but again...different interests. I watch these shows on tv of women who actually have other women friends who support each other and do stuff together and am jealous. Alcohol used to do this for me but now that I don't drink, I am left out of that crowd and it is hard.

PS - After posting this I searched: 50 and insecure

I found this article 5 Things to Do When you Feel Insecure and want to remember it, especially these two sections which really spoke to me. I need to get off Facebook as I compare myself to how great everyone else's life is and I need to find people in my life who really get me.

 3. Avoid people you feel insecure around.
I know this sounds like common sense, but it does require a bit of homework. Sometimes you have to rearrange your schedule, find a new route to work, take lunch at a different time, or compile a ton of excuses to have on hand. “I’m sorry I can’t go to happy hour with you guys. The truth is that your cliquish group does not make me happy. I have a better chance of getting happy by myself. Oh, and my dog needs to get groomed at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday night.”
You have to protect yourself. That should be your first priority for as long as you are feeling insecure, not convenience. Why torture yourself? If you think the popular group will notice, you’re wrong. Most likely they don’t care about you. But you won’t care that they don’t care if you are proactive about protecting yourself. Then, when you don’t feel as insecure, you can resume your old schedule or go to happy hour if you want and if your dog has been groomed.
4. Surround yourself with supportive people.
There are only a few people in my life who get me. Who really get me. When I’m insecure, I will drive 250 miles to see them, or squeeze a half hour into my hectic evening to talk to them on the phone. They remind me of what is good and unique about myself — maybe unorthodox and not at all appreciated by other folks — elements that contribute to my decent DNA. These people love that I have no filter, that I say whatever I am thinking out loud and therefore insult an average of two people every ten seconds. This character defect, they say, is refreshing!
Those trusted few are the voices of truth and we need as many voices of truth as we can get. “We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us,” writes Beth Moore in “So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend To Us.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

January 1, 2020

I am 570 days or 18 months three weeks or a little over 1 1/2 years sober....and my daughter got married 3 days ago. 

If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be able to get through the incredibly stressful planning and the very emotional day of her wedding without alcohol - I would have not believed you. 

If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be able to have hosted multiple dinners including a New Year's Eve party for many out of town guests without drinking - I wouldn't have believed you.

If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would not even crave alcohol when faced with social situations -  I would have believed you.

But all of that is true. My dream for myself to live a happy (for the most part) sober life has come true. 

For the first year of sobriety, I really missed the high highs that come with drinking. The only thing that kept me going was the loss of the low lows. I can honestly say that I really don't miss the alcohol-fueled high highs anymore either. First of all, I am learning that I can have those crazy, hyper, fun-filled nights without alcohol. I thought that was only possible with alcohol, but I am finding that fun, social, person again. I do not have the anticipation high that I used to have before drinking which makes it a little harder to actually get out and do anything social. But, once I do get together with people, I have a good time and am glad I went. 

I am so grateful for my sober life. I am so grateful that I could enjoy the beautiful wedding of my daughter fully present. She was amazing, we love her husband and his family and it was such an amazing day for her. It was everything she wanted which is everything I wanted for her. A little bit of drama came up a couple of times and I was able to not engage, let it go and put my daughter first. I will cherish that day forever with no regrets and be forever grateful I was sober and fully present.

I am also working on mending an estranged relationship with one of my sisters and working on having a better relationship with my mother. It is so much easier to navigate extremely emotional, difficult situations when sober. I feel calmer, more rational and honesty more able to see the part I play in all of it.  

I think my addiction to alcohol made me a bit of a narcissist. I really did think that I was always right and it was my mission was to make everyone else agree with that or at least see where I was coming from. That is an incredibly selfish way to look at life. I couldn't even see it, because I really was/am a good person, I just had a hard time understanding why everyone couldn't see my point of view and when they didn't, I took it personally. I was worried people would think I was selfish or being a bad person or question my motivation.

After a year and a half sober, I am just trying to make decisions, deal with situations and speak with integrity. As long as I am OK with how I handle something, it doesn't matter what anyone else believes. Everyone sees things differently...not everyone has the same perspective on life as me and it is not my job to make them see things my way. As long as I am a good person and I do what I think is right, they have the right to believe what they want. If they truly care about me, they will seek to understand me. If not, that is ok. 

Also, things that people say that hurt my feeling may not have anything to do with me. They might be having a bad day or may not even mean it in the way I took it. I need to not take things so personally (and maybe read The Four Agreements book again -lol).

I am by no means done working on this, in fact, it is one of my goals for this year. I am learning that I am incredibly sensitive and get my feeling hurt easily. It is not because I have an alcohol problem, or because I have a is truly who I am...and that is ok. What isn't ok is that sometimes I need to try harder to see things from another person's perspective and seek to understand them. 

For example, the day after my daughter's wedding, my house was a disaster from all the wedding stuff being dumped the night before. I was also hosting, again, all of his family for New Year's Eve (which I was happy to do). She had stayed overnight where she got married and she went to see his family before she got home which I had no problem with. She didn't get home until 3:30 and I really got my feeling hurt. I felt like she (or her husband) didn't even consider the fact that I had a mess of a house and that I needed to go to the store and cook for the evening. I thought she would say, "We need to go help my mom." They spent so much time visiting with his family and didn't even consider how much I had to do. I decided when she got home I wouldn't be passive-aggressive about it, I would just tell her how I felt. Which I have to say is scary and hard for me.  I expected her to say, "Oh my gosh mom, I am so so sorry." Instead, she got defensive and told me that she really didn't; know that the house was a mess and that she was getting home in time to help me get ready for the party. I had a really hard time with that response. I think have a harder time dealing with someone's response to how I feel if it is not what I want to hear than I have with the reason I was upset, to begin with. I just so desperately need validation for how I feel. Why can't she see where I am coming from? Then I go to this place of even feeling guilty I said anything. Maybe I shouldn't have been upset. Maybe I am just being dramatic?  Now they aren't even going to want to hang out at my house with this emotional woman. Great! Now they aren't ever going to move closer, because they would have to deal with me. This thought pattern is absolutely ridiculous but it happens. I am getting better with this when it comes to everyone except my children.  I so desperately want them to think I am a good, kind, caring person that I have a hard time expressing my feeling when I am upset with them. 

I have to work on not needing my feeling to be validated/make people understand my perspective and be more confident in their love for me and know that no matter how I feel or what I say or if I get upset, that isn't going to change. They are going to love me and want me around even if I express my opinion or make them mad or are being honest with how I feel. Even if they don't agree with why I am upset and may think I am being ridiculous, it is not going to hurt the core of our relationship or change the way they feel about me. I am terrified I will push them away. Maybe all of this stems from the natural difficulties of kids growing up and feeling the loss of not being the most important thing in their lives anymore. I imagine I am not the only one to go through this. It is really hard and one of my goals it to work on this.

My goals for this year are:

1.  Be more confident in my relationships and trust that they are solid no matter what I say or how I feel. I have a right to feel the way I do and express those feelings and doing so will not push my children away. They love me no matter what. 

2.  Be better at self-care - work out, do yoga, meditate, eat well, stay hydrated, get enough sleep and just calm the f**k down. I swear to God I have a manic side to me that has nothing to do with alcohol. I get so wrapped up in something I am doing - remodeling my house, working on school work, planning a wedding, analyzing which vacuum to buy that I don't do anything else. I don't work out, don't go to bed, don't eat well. I think it might be a bit of OCD coupled with manic behavior. It has become such a habit that I am really uncomfortable with any downtime. I actually start to feel depressed when I don't have anything to obsess about, but yet being so consumed with something is exhausting and gives me so much anxiety that I don't sleep well and get emotional and overly sensitive. I thought this was all caused by alcohol. Apparently not. 

3.  Be better at getting to social engagements that I am invited to. It is so easy to just not go, but then I think I get lonely. Once I get there I always have a good time. I just need to do better about getting there.

So.. life is not always rainbows and unicorns without alcohol. Being sober has not cured me of all of my personal difficulties but it has given me the space to be able to work on them. 
One thing I am no longer consumed/obsessed with is thinking about alcohol and I am grateful for that every day. The mental real estate that has been freed up is allowing me to work on other areas that need attention.

I am in a more stable emotional/mental place than I was 2 years ago. I feel so much better and am better equipped to deal with whatever comes along in a calm, patient, rational least more of the time. I am gaining confidence in how I feel, being able to express it and not needing so much validation. I am getting better at seeing the whole picture and how someone else may be feeling. 

I am incredibly grateful for my sobriety and my family. 

2020 is going to be a great year full of self-growth and good times. 

If anyone has suggestions for good books in this area, please share.