Short and Sweet

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I love this poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Here it is in its entirety if you want to read or re-read it.

It reminds me so much of sobriety. Today I am so thankful that I took the road less traveled by and stopped drinking alcohol. That is what we are doing when we get sober- making a choice that everyone doesn’t have the chance to make. For whatever reason, we were given a choice. Everyone HAS a choice, but some people are never able to truly move past denial into recovery. That thought keeps me humble, as well as really grateful for what I have going on in my life right now.

Friendships and Life

I am working on building, or rebuilding, friendships in real life because I haven’t put much effort there, aside from the bare minimum, for the past 8 months. Getting sober has been my main concern- not friends. But obviously, friends are great when you have something to talk about, like old hook-ups, that leaves you feeling icky, icky and more icky. So there it is – lesson learned – we need people in all areas of our lives. We are not islands. Staying on my little sober island was good for awhile, but now it is becoming a hindrance to growth.

I don’t feel comfortable discussing certain things with my friends right now, though. When I say that I want to work on building friendships I mean the really deep kind where you can truly share yourself- even the icky, embarrassing parts. This makes me think that I might want to reconsider AA, because alcoholics are probably able to understand better about doing stupid stuff when blacked out, while moderate, normal drinkers don’t have those types of experiences often in life. I am expanding all the time… I can feel it. My life is getting bigger, and maybe AA should be a part of that. I am less scared (of everything, pretty much) than I was at first, so I might be able to handle going to meetings without feeling so shaky and close to drinking.

Sometimes I think that the friends that we attract mirror who we are, or how we are feeling, on the inside. When I am being judgmental or gossipy I notice those qualities in the friends around me. When I am feeling worthy and whole, I notice the best qualities about my friends. This is why I am going to work harder on developing friendships by being the best version of myself. For this introvert, that sometimes means staying home when I am feeling bad. That’s okay, though. It is all about knowing your limits and being comfortable in your own skin. Loving yourself.

I hate when I feel needy around friends. My people-pleasing, approval-seeking, perfectionist self comes out and wants my friends to tell me that I am doing everything right. That never happens, and is a ridiculous desire, so I need to keep seeking that approval from within. Loving myself by accepting that I am okay right now, as is.

Relationships can really push our buttons, can’t they? I think they are meant to sometimes, but sometimes you just want to have a few laughs and feel accepted. This happens to me more often around certain people than others. What I am trying to figure out now is how much judgment I am placing on friends, and how that is affecting the way that I feel around them. I want to be free from judgments as much as possible. Since I used to plan my social life and friendships around opportunities for drinking – instead of figuring out who gets me, inspires me, motivates me, challenges me – this is a whole new ball of wax. Like anything, when it is viewed as a fun experiment that cannot go wrong, it works so much better.

Enjoying life means enjoying people. I think recovery means figuring out how to be my genuine, social self in the world sans alcohol (like my tagline). A little at a time.

 

How Did You Let It Get So Bad?

Admitting that I had a drinking problem meant that I had to admit that I let things fall apart in my life. How could I let it get so bad? I mean, how embarrassing! In the end I couldn’t deny that I had a problem without doing some serious mental acrobatics. I was horrified to admit that everything was, in fact, NOT okay after all.

Denying that there was a problem, making excuses for all of the “little things” that went wrong over the years, was easier than facing up to this huge problem I hadn’t dealt with. That I didn’t want to deal with. That I maybe even couldn’t deal with because I didn’t have the right tools, or didn’t know that I had the right tools. But in the end, how could I NOT deal with the big elephant in the room taking big elephant poops all over my life?

I am not horrified or embarrassed about my path anymore. I let my life get that way, yep, I sure did. I take the blame. Alcohol is an addictive substance for (some) people, and I got addicted. I think I was born addicted, but in the end I made choices and ended up where I ended up. I accept who I am, warts and all. Alcoholic and all.

On a lighter note, spring is fully here at last! I am happy about that. I quit drinking last August and was relieved when the colder months came around. I thought it would be easier to stay inside and drink hot tea during the winter, and it was cozy and nice to be inside, but winter was a toughy this year and stuck around for a bit too long. I feared spring and summer because, you know… nice weather, barbecues, gardening, swimming at the lake, etc. How do you do those things without a cold alcoholic beverage in your hand?

It turns out you don’t need one! I KNOW!

I was worried for nothing. Nice weather is actually nicer without being hungover, or blurry and tired from having one too many, or blackout drunk and not remembering anything. My husband and I got a lot of work done on the garden this weekend because we weren’t rushing to get to beer-thirty and then feeling crappy the next day, unable to work again. I had loads of energy, enjoyed the sunshine, and have a great feeling of accomplishment from doing lots of tasks and helping to improve our home. There were some pangs, but they were just pangs. I am not going to drink. I want to get to one year sober and beyond. Drinking isn’t an option for me anymore, man. It just isn’t.

It turns out sobriety is kind of like staying in winter because you are not sure about spring. You worry about what it will be like, but in actuality it is so much better than you could have imagined. I mean, there are flowers! Life without alcohol is actually preferable if you are a heavy hardcore boozer person. Drinking too much on a regular basis makes life harder. If it is either ALL or NOTHING then I choose nothing because life is still good without alcohol in it. The benefits of life, like enjoying nice days, spending time with family, doing fun things, feeling accomplishment of a job well done, etc. are there sober. In fact, I believe they are better sober.

The lows might be lower, too, that is true. There is nothing to take the edge off so you have to deal with life unfiltered. Right now, to me, that seems like an okay price to pay. I tell myself that I don’t get to have it all, and I am lucky for the things that I have in my life. And that feels good; it is enough for me right now.

 

Moving Forward

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I passed eight months sober the other day – woo! woo! – as my son would say in his adorable 17-month-old voice.

As far as my recovery is concerned I have been working on letting go of resentments, so I have been focusing energy there. I get really worked up over minor things and have trouble letting them go. People say things that hurt my feelings and it ruffles my feathers for days. I obsess and think about what I COULD have said and on and on. It is exhausting and I want to stop doing it. I have made some progress on letting go of hurts from my past, but I still hold onto real or imaginary hurts from the present too tightly.

I was reading something about resentments that said that if you hold really strong resentments like I do, you might not have had the space available to express your feelings properly as a child. That makes a lot of sense. Living with alcoholic family members means a lot of holding in feelings or having your feelings invalidated. Where there is denial of alcoholism there is a tendency to avoid talking about feelings relating to alcoholism… and everything else, for that matter. I remember feeling resentment as a child, and I don’t think I’ve ever figured out how NOT to feel that way.

I am working on expressing my true feelings in the moment, if it is possible and appropriate. This is great when it happens, but I don’t always understand my feelings in the moment, which is usually when I have resentments about things come up later. Here are a few things I have worked out/picked up about resentments so far. They will be a helpful reminder to me as I move forward.

– Feeling resentment is actually a choice; I am choosing to dwell instead of moving on and focusing on something else.

– Sometimes the resentment I am feeling is actually old resentment from childhood. I am comfortable being in a state of resentment because I have done it for so long, so I find ways to feel that way now. It seems so strange to subconsciously desire this feeling, but humans are adaptable and become comfortable feeling bad if we do it for long enough.

– I feel resentful when I feel threatened by my own vulnerability. I get triggered by something and then want to push the person away. I get defensive and then feel resentful of them after the fact. When I feel resentment I don’t want to include the person in my life for awhile… until I no longer feel that way towards them. I often don’t actually deal with the root of the problem, though, so it keeps coming up over and over again.

-I used to drink over my resentments and I don’t do that anymore. Now I have to feel some discomfort, but it is so much better than numbing out and then saying something about my resentment while drunk. I used to do that sometimes, and it always made things worse. It is better to face these problems head on.

-I do not need to confront the person every time I feel resentment. I need to remember that some of these feelings are old resentments from my past and are overreactions to the present situation.

So far these things are helping a little, but it always helps even more to write my thoughts out here. This blog has been such a good tool on my sober journey. I appreciate having this little space on the internet and people who actually read what I write. You guys are the best. I also learn so much from all of you bloggers, so thank you for doing your thing and sharing it so publicly. It makes me feel understood and comforted on so many levels to know that you all are out there.

 

 

Awkward Convos

I have been experiencing some awkward conversations about alcohol lately. It seems like certain people talk about it a lot, and I no longer really know what to say during those conversations since I don’t ever ingest or taste it anymore, so I just kind of nod when the subject is brought up. I mean, most of these people KNOW that I don’t drink. It’s not a huge deal, just kind of weird and funny when it happens. Here is a funny/witty/curse-word-filled article about addiction from Cracked that talks about many things, one being the awkward conversations about alcohol that happen after you quit. I enjoyed it and related to many of the realizations…maybe you will, too.

7 Things You Don’t Realize About Addiction (Until You Quit)

It is always nice to know that we aren’t alone. Never, ever. Have a great day!

 

 

 

Fear

My last post talked about a play group that I recently started attending that includes wine drinking for most of the other moms. I had a hard time at the last one that I attended, and kind of wanted to join in the drinking even though I knew that would be a horrible idea. I don’t have to attend this group! I am doing it so that my son has some kids to play with. If it doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world. I was worrying way too much, as I do. As I am trying NOT to do, but you know. It’s hard to stop.

Do I wish that we had a less alcohol-infused society? Yes. Do I want to try to meet more sober people? Yes. Do I want to ONLY attend activities that are alcohol-free? No, not really. A lot of people in our society drink so if I limit myself to spending time with those who are sober or teetotal I am severely limiting my life! However, if I find it too hard to be around drinkers I will leave. I don’t like being around drunk people. I will ALWAYS have an escape plan. I will ALWAYS say a little prayer before going out to help me stay sober. I will ALWAYS listen to my gut and try to do what is best for me (even if this means staying home and missing a social activity for me or my son). My sobriety comes first.

I think part of recovery is facing my fears. I couldn’t do that at first because I wasn’t ready, but I am stronger now. I have faith that I will make good decisions about my life. I trust myself. I don’t need to test myself or my resolve by placing myself in unnecessarily hard situations, but I need to learn how to live life as a sober person in various settings and situations. I want to be a social person. I don’t want to live in fear.

And speaking of fear- I think I have been reacting to old fears for a long time. I became scared as a young girl because I saw the world fall apart around me, and I learned to live with the constant fear I experienced by self-medicating. I don’t need to do that anymore. I need to fight these fears, many of which are totally irrational, and become the person I am capable of being.

Here is a good article about fear if you are interested in reading it.

Are Your Frightened Too? (from Veronica Valli’s blog)

I really appreciate all of your thoughts and support. I am sending the best and nicest of my thoughts to you all.

 

Play Groups With Wine

My son and I started attending a new play group last week for mamas and littles (plus wine). I felt fine not drinking the first week we went, but this past week was a bit harder. Maybe because I was offered alcohol a bunch of times by an exuberant host husband trying to be polite and friendly? Or because the hosts drank more this time? Or because I was the only Mom not drinking? I am not sure exactly, except that it was a little harder to deal with this time around. I wasn’t close to drinking, but the thought crossed my mind about how easy it would be to say yes. These are new friends so they don’t know my history with alcohol, and I felt scared facing a social situation without the loss of inhibitions that comes with a few drinks. I didn’t feel loose; I felt uptight and shy. Prudish. Boring.

Those thoughts and feelings were all in my head, though. I believe that I came across just fine to others. I talked to moms, played with the kids, ate snacks, drank the bottled water that I brought with, and had a nice time overall. I am not sure anyone really CARED that I wasn’t drinking. In retrospect I don’t think they even noticed- I think I just felt sorta awkward about it and projected that onto others. I am still learning how to be sober in different situations. It takes time.

I played the tape forward and thought about what would happen if I did say yes to a drink in that situation. Well, I likely would have had more than one drink and then had to drive my sweet little toddler home. When I was drinking I felt nervous with new friends, as I do now, and would have craved more drinks to TRULY RELAX after I got home, so I would have stopped at the store on the way home for some beer or wine. I also would have wanted a cigarette to go with my drink(s), so then I would have bought a pack of cigarettes. The end result = me at home drinking and smoking on my back deck feeling like shit. Worth it to feel a bit less uncomfortable at a play group that lasted all of two hours? No!

The main problem is that I feel stiff and uptight sometimes. I have always felt that way, even when I WAS drinking. I am just not a dance-on-the-table type of person. And I feel defensive about being sober! Like I am defective and not good or fun enough to hang out with this group if I am not drinking. Wow- where do these thoughts come from?

So instead of drinking I am going to work on loosening up a little around others in a healthy way. I am going to start by trying to release fear and just be myself. What do I have to lose? I DON’T DRINK, so that is not an option.

Any readers have tips on letting go of fear? Let’s share!