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 :)


  1. Congratulations on 2 years! I’m sorry I missed this. When I got separated I really fell apart and I kind of forgot about blogs.
    I’m so happy for you!

  2. Good for you dude, I'm also trying to be sober, I'm currently in Transcend Recovery Community and they are helping me with my alcohol addiction.