Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anatomy of A Wine Drinking Evening

Maybe I was what you might call a boring alcoholic. Although I did have my glorious drunken moments, I wasn't exactly Lindsay Lohan. Here is what a very typical night might have looked like.

4:30 PM: Oh, it's going to be nice to go home, relax, make dinner and have a glass of wine.  Today has been exhausting!

5:30 PM: Almost quitting time! I can make my famous tomato basil pasta dish and maybe I'll pick up some fresh Parmesan cheese to grate. We have like, a week's worth of Jeopardy to catch up on, too! I'll go by the place in the village for wine tonight, since I went to the other place last night.

6:30 PM: I hand the person at the register my debit card and wish I weren't on a first name basis with every liquor store clerk within a five mile radius of my house. I say, "Let me know if you get in any sulfite-free wine anytime soon!" Because it's the sulfites that cause my sinus problems and acid reflux. Not the fact that I drink an entire bottle at a time.

6:45 PM: Ah, opening the bottle always makes me feel relaxed. That first pour signals the beginning of the night.

7:00 PM: Halfway done with the first glass and in the middle of dinner prep. I top off the glass.

7:15 PM: Ready for dinner and oopsie! Down to half a glass again. Maybe I'll just bring the wine bottle out to the table so I don't have to keep getting up.

7:45 PM: Dinner is done. Ready for another glass of wine. Time to start the Jeopardy marathon!

8:00 PM: I love this show. And I am on fire! Nailing all the answers. They tailor-made this episode for me! I am tied with my (non-drinking) trivia-headed husband.

8:30 PM: Crap, this happens every time. I'm two-thirds of the bottle in. I have to make this last.

9:00 PM: I'm totally sucking at this episode of Jeopardy. It's like I know the answers, if I just had like two or three more seconds to come up with them. They are all on the tip of my tongue! My husband is creaming me.

9:30 PM: My phone rings. It's my best friend. I have to take it. "Do you mind, honey?" I pour the rest of the wine into my glass. Uh, oh.

10:30 PM: I hope I have done a sufficient job convincing my friend that I sober. I might have gotten a little overly emotional about something at one point. We hung up on normal terms, so I'm probably safe. I think there is some leftover Bud Light somewhere in the basement.

10:40 PM: Okay, whatever, I know I don't particularly care for beer, but so what? It's my house and I'll drink it if I want to. I can pour it in another glass so I don't feel so "King of the Hill" drinking it out of the can. Come to think of it, I'll use a mason jar because I can fit two cans in it.

10: 45 PM: Back to Jeopardy. I really stink at this. I'm stupid. Why did my husband even marry me? I'm getting sleepy. I'll just check Facebook real quick before I hit the hay. (I swerve and sway over to my husband to kiss him goodnight. I am trying really hard to just look like a tired person.) Maybe I don't look super drunk. No, I'm probably fine. He hates me. He is just disgusted with me. I can totally see why, too. I mean, I am just a wreck.

11:00 PM: I'm posting something really clever on Facebook before bed. Because I am a fucking genius and all my friends will think this is hilarious. How did brushing my teeth become the hardest thing in the world?

12:15 AM: What the fuck was that? Oh, it's just my husband moving me onto my stomach. Is my snoring that bad?

4:00 AM: Wide awake. I have to pee a river. Now, all the negative and paranoid thoughts come barreling at me. What the hell did I post on Facebook? Shit, all the bills are due at the end of the week! And I haven't even started that crazy work project yet! God, I'm thirsty. I am such a loser. Oh, shit, what was that? Is that where my liver is? Was that like a pang of some kind? Maybe it's just a little cramp. I'm fine. I'm totally fine. I need to get back to sleep. Did I ever send a thank you card to my mother-in-law for that gift? I am a horrible person.

5:00 AM: Still awake. Awesome. This is just so fucking awesome. But it serves me right.  I need more water. And I have to pee again.

5:45 AM: Finally ... drifting off ...

6:30 AM: What's that noise? Is that the alarm? Where's the aspirin?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guiding Priciples: Mutual Help

As participants progress in recovery their focus can shift to enjoying the activities of a healthy, fulfilling and productive life, including the satisfaction of assisting new participants in SMART Recovery.

Okay, so I am still pretty new to this sobriety thing. I am 105 days in, which would be pretty impressive to my day 1 self, but compared to the total days I hope I have left to live, this number is pretty low. I am still crafting my own program and my opinions about things shift quite a lot. Just look at how long it took me to wrestle with "To O'Doul's or Not to O'Doul's?" And "Will I become addicted to recovery, the same way I was addicted to alcohol and cigarettes?" I mean, protecting my sobriety is serious business, so I think about these seemingly silly things. A lot. I think that is a natural part of early recovery. Figuring out what works for you, what feels right and what sorts of things you know you want to avoid/welcome into your life. It's a work in progress and I am sure that there are people with decades of sobriety who continually discover new things as the years go by. That's a wonderful thing.

So, how does one in early sobriety assist another person in recovery? What could I possibly offer my friends who share this struggle? The answer is: plenty!
  1. Share your story. The simple act of sharing your story is enormously helpful. Just knowing that you aren't alone in this struggle can help take pounds of invisible weight off one's shoulders. All of those little relatable pieces really do add up. It's so powerful, but simple, too.
  2. Actively listen without judgement.  
  3. Share resources that have been helpful to you.  Whether it be books, podcasts, discussion boards, articles, support groups, movies, apps - whatever. 
  4. Be supportive, encouraging and positive. Relapses are common and I think the best way to help someone in recovery who has relapsed is to let them know that you are there for them.  

Here are some things you might not want to do:
  1. Don't tell someone to take a specific medication. I would leave this to the medical professionals. You can share perhaps what you have taken if you want, but I wouldn't dispense that kind of medical advice without a license.
  2. Make suggestions, but do not force or push. When I was actively drinking, the last thing in the world I wanted was to be bullied by someone. It made me want to do more of the things that were harming me. That defensive part of my brain is still there. I didn't suddenly become a different person, so my panties still get in a bunch when I am browbeaten by someone, even when they have really great intentions. Of course, everyone is different, but I generally avoid urging people to do this or that. Suggestions are better.
  3. Unless the person is your patient and you are a doctor, do not make a medical diagnosis. I wouldn't go around telling people that they are bi-polar, diabetic, or chronically depressed. Just not a good idea.
  4. Do not judge or label. Goes without saying.
  5. Do not forbid, warn or use scare tactics. This is tricky. Sometimes people use very dramatic language to get their point across. For example, if going to parties causes you too much anxiety, do not assume that someone else won't be able to handle it. It's appropriate to share that you are not able to do it, but forbidding someone else to do it, is, in my opinion, not the best way to communicate with a fellow person in recovery. I can go to parties and bars with friends and I am perfectly okay. Some places, I know I can't go, so I avoid them. Regular bar: Fine. Wine Bar: No way. Given that Cabernets and Pinot Noirs were my drinks of choice and that wine bars are loaded with pretty excellent ones, I would rather not torture myself. But I wouldn't run up to someone I hardly know (or someone I know well for that matter) and warn them not to go to places like this or horrendous consequences will ensue. There is a difference between dispensing helpful tips and coming across like Crazy Ralph in Friday the 13th, screaming, "You're all doomed!"

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wedding Wrap

Here's the first thing I can tell you about the wedding. It was freezing cold. You know how they jack up the air conditioning in movie theaters (to me, it seems like they do this all year, which is one of the reasons I rarely go)? Well, that was the climate at the wedding. It was held in a little event space at a cute New England inn. There were really sweet touches, like a huge candy bar, where guests were literally encouraged to take home a little grab bag of candy; delicious passed hors d'oeuvres and ... an open bar. The couple who got married were totally gracious and it was quite a merry time. I know that if I were drinking, I would have really laid into that open bar with a vengeance. I would have danced to all the songs - ones that I liked and lots that I didn't like. I would have eaten way too much (Oh, man, they had these little fried macaroni and cheese ball things at the buffet - dangerous!). When I wasn't knocking back free booze and scoffing down food, I would be in the bathroom peeing up a storm. I would have started getting super sleeping by midnight and maybe I would have asked to "take a little nap" in the car long before my husband was ready to go. I would not have felt the excessive air conditioning because I would have been loaded. I'm pretty sure that's why everyone else was comfortable. I would have talked to strangers about who knows what. I might have fallen down by the end of the night or come very close to it. Really, I can see all of that playing out vividly. Instead, I kept with my program. I had an O'Doul's when we got there and then I asked the bartender to make me a "non-alcoholic, citrusy, grown up drink." I should learn my lesson with this one because they always give me a drink heavy on pineapple juice. I don't much care for pineapple juice, but bartenders go right for it when you ask for something non-alcoholic and citrusy, though I am not sure if it falls into that category. Tropical, yes. Citrusy, not really. The next time, I was specific. Club soda, cranberry juice and lime. It was perfect. When the coffee was served, I guess I didn't get there in time, because all that was left was decaf. 

The people we knew were all on the same nicotine schedule as one another, so we spent most of the night going in and out of the space, following the smoker's herd. I used to be one of them, so, I know all about that, too. I smelled a lot of booze and cigarettes and I will have to be honest and say that, at moments, I was jealous. But then, I reminded myself that I am healthy now and even one drink or cigarette will ruin everything. I didn't see any of "my people" there, but maybe they didn't see me, either. An O'Doul's looks like a regular beer unless the person holding it is kind enough to do so in such a way as not to cover the label. A fruit juice and club soda looks like any old boozy cocktail.

I had to chuckle when I saw the party favors. Huge bottles of champagne for everyone to take home. That was the universe slapping its knee and laughing really hard in my face. Good one! 

I did have fun, I did enjoy the conversations I had, I did remember everything. My husband kept saying things like, "Gee, Mr. So-and-So doesn't seem as grouchy as he usually is," and "So-and-So was asking weird questions." I was just like, wow, I can't believe you don't realize how huge a part booze is playing in this entire event. If weddings didn't have booze, do you really think people would linger as long as they do? Especially with the air conditioning turned way up like that?

I am truly happy for the couple. They really did a nice job putting everything together and I know that if I were still actively drinking, it would have been paradise for me. The champagne favor at the end would have made them my heroes for life. But, they are still a cool couple nonetheless and I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Big First Tonight

So, I'm capping off this kooky week with my first sober wedding. Tonight. I'm sitting here with hair dye actively doing its thing on my head under a plastic thingy, the nape of my neck kind of stingy from the dye and I know that this kind of uncomfortable is nothing compared to how I am probably going to feel this evening when wine and beer and champagne are getting swirled around my face like leaves in the wind on a brisk fall day. Yes, I know that I have the option to turn down the invite. That's always on the table. But that's not how I roll. Case in point, the insane house party I decided to attend less than a week into sobriety. I am a leap now, look later type person. This has both pros and cons, but one of the pros in this situation is that since I white knuckled that party (and drank no fewer than 10 mocktails in 4 hours), I've got this. Also, my husband doesn't drink and we have a code word for "I've got to get the hell out of here!" should the need arise. I have actually forgotten the code word, since I haven't had to use it yet. Yay! That's good! Maybe we'll come up with a new one during the drive to Connecticut. I like: biscuit! Or maybe: crunchberries! Actually, I think it's a nogo on the plural. I think singular is best for a code word. We can always steal George Costanza's, Tippy Toe! Tippy Toe! But then, if there are Seinfeld fans there, this might cause suspicion. Oh, who cares? They'll all be hanging out with my best friend, anyway. I could care less what they think.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guiding Priciples: Recovery through Self Empowerment

I thought I would blog about the guiding principles of my program, SMART Recovery. SMART stands for Self Management and Recovery Training. The first principle is Recovery through Self Empowerment.

Our purpose is to help participants gain independence from any addictive behavior. We believe that individuals seeking recovery should be fully informed about the range of recovery options and free to choose among them. Our program encourages participants to take responsibility for their own recovery. Our meetings support their capacity to regulate their own behavior.

I should state for the record, that I do subscribe to a higher power. However,  for me, my higher power is not part of my program. I have nothing against people who draw on strength and guidance from their higher power to keep them sober. There are no rights or wrongs in this. It's all about what works for the individual. Even folks who use their higher power as a primary means to keep them on track, practical, self-empowerment is never a bad thing to have in one's back pocket.

Prior to discovering seemingly simple tools, alcohol would always win. It's almost like there was no one else contending. Booze was running the show. Now, I feel like I have tangible ways to deal with cravings, giving alcohol a run for its money. None of this would have been possible, though, if I had not come to understand my illness and how it works. You can't slay a dragon if you don't know how big it is. Armed with education, acceptance, and practical tools, I feel like I am in a good position to be able to slay the dragon. I got myself into this. I need to be responsible for managing my condition. I'll be doing this for the rest of my life, so I have to be comfortable with my special brand of recovery. I use the SMART program, but I am not adverse to picking up bits here and there from other programs and fitting them into mine, if they make sense to me.

Staying Present

Moi at Rockaway Beach in Queens

This week has all over the place. It started in New York City. I spent an evening visiting one of my dear friends in Brooklyn. We headed over to Rockaway Beach (I had never been) and I got to see it in it's full post-Hurricane Sandy splendor. They did a great job re-building in the area. I was so encouraged, though I know it had been a long road. This particular friend has a studio in Red Hook and was intensely active in the recovery effort in that part of the city after Sandy hit. I have had some truly eye-awakening conversations with her about it and I am so incredibly proud of the work she has done in getting Red Hook back in business. When the rest of the world had moved on, she was still working diligently with a group of volunteers to get basic things back to normal in some areas. It's humbling to hear about it. I also know that she is not the same person she was before Hurricane Sandy and that her volunteering was a transformative experience for her in a million ways.

When I visit this friend, we always head to the same neighborhood haunts. One of them in a bar several blocks from her apartment. They make a mean fried catfish sandwich. When we went this time, I ordered seltzer with cranberry juice and lime. Ironically, she was the one who suggested we leave after she finished her beer because it was a loud night and we could barely hear each other. So, we ended up having coffee and cupcakes at her place. We never run our of conversation and laughter. Usually, by that time in the evening, I am on my 4th glass of wine, possibly finishing her wine, and unable to remember the last bits of chit-chat before turning in for the night. This time, though, I not only remembered everything, I FELT the laughter more. It was real laughter, not fueled by booze, not ushered along by alcohol. It was genuine and genuinely felt. I was fully present. Just as my friend's experience in helping to restore Red Hook has permanently changed her, my recovery journey has been doing the same for me. I knew I needed to stop drinking. I had no idea that I would be blessed with such great gifts in recovery.

When my New York trip was over, I barely had time to catch my breath before my husband and I headed up to New Hampshire for a funeral. This is the 2nd death I have experienced since getting sober. After the funeral, we all headed to a nice restaurant, where the family had put together a wonderful slide show filled with touching pictures of the departed. Many folks were drinking. Instead of joining them, I opted for coffee and lost myself in the slide show.

Being fully present is a great gift. Never take that for granted. I hope I never do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Idea

I'm still in early sobriety, so I spend a good amount of time listening to sober podcasts, audio books on sobriety and reading up on sober blogs. When does early sobriety end, by the way? I am guessing after a year, though I have heard that the first 6 months are the most difficult.  My first 3 months have been full of ups and downs, but I have tried to maintain a good balance. I am still experiencing my "firsts," as in my first sober party, my first sober funeral, my first sober beach weekend. Each time I embark on one of these "firsts," I find myself not necessarily wanting to drink, but not exactly feeling calm and relaxed, either. I'm antsy, acutely aware of all the alcohol around me and trying to convince myself that everything is okay, that I can find enjoyment in these activities without my old friend. Easier said than done. I'm glad I am knocking these "firsts" out of the way. I look forward to a time when I am not obsessive about alcohol in these situations. Since I'm only 3 months in, I am being patient with myself. I am telling myself that this is a process and that it is perfectly natural to feel anxious in these situations where my social lubricant was flowing like a mighty stream.

Anyway, I have found tremendous comfort in learning that I am not alone. It is such a relief to hear other stories and identify countless numbers of similarities to my own. As you may know, I am a really big fan of The Bubble Hour, a weekly podcast created by and posted by women in recovery. I have never met them, but through the generosity of their wisdom and time, I feel that I know them well and they inspire me. I certainly know their stories. I lived it, too. I find myself wanting to listen to more recovery stories. I have searched around and I have seen some TED Talks and, as I once mentioned here, the After Party podcasts. I have also heard a few AA podcasts, but I must admit that I was turned off right away. The first one I listened to was given by a 35-year-old woman who had been in recovery since the age of 15 and, in my view (I know I am not supposed to judge), might just be a little too dependent on the program.

I am thinking of starting a quick podcast series, maybe 30 minutes each. Ten questions. Always the same questions. The person in recovery can remain anonymous or give their name, which ever they choose would be fine. Here are the questions I am thinking about asking:
 
  1. Tell me about the beginning of your relationship with alcohol.
  2. At what point did you start to sense that the honeymoon period of your relationship with alcohol was starting to wane? What were the early signs?
  3. What lengths did you personally go to in order to manage your drinking? Did you ever hide your alcohol from anyone or stash it in secret places?
  4. Describe some of the ways in which you were dishonest to yourself and others about your drinking.
  5. Did anyone ever express concern to you about your drinking? What was that like?
  6. Describe your “bottom.”
  7. How did you find recovery? 
  8. Describe some of the challenges you have faced while in recovery.
  9. What are your best tools for staying on track? Where do you draw the most strength? 
  10. What advice would you give someone who is on the fence about entering a recovery program? 

I think this would be a nice, digestible series that could be helpful, particularly to people in early recovery. Maybe I can draft another series of ten questions for people who have been in long term recovery.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this could be useful?

Taking it Up a Notch

An interesting topic came up in my recovery group meeting last night. It is yet another way that our disease came through as a lying, maniacal manifestation. One of us brought up the whole "looking forward to when your partner/spouse goes away for a couple of days" time and how our inner addict immediately took our intake up a level or two.

If you read my blog or know me personally, you know how much I love my husband. He is my entire world. He is kind, thoughtful, gentle and sweet. I am a lucky woman. We spend most of our time off together, doing something we both enjoy. However, once in a while, he or I will go on an adventure with a friend, instead. In my case, I go to a remote island in Maine with my girlfriends from college for an artist's retreat once a year and in his case, he travels to different baseball parks with a friend of his. It doesn't happen often, but I do believe that it's healthy for couples to have a little time apart now and then for such things.

When I was actively drinking, though I knew I would miss him, I began to look forward to the time he might be gone for a night or two. Why? Because that meant I could drink as much as I wanted to without any judgement. If I wanted to open a second bottle of wine, I could do it. And I could drink as much of that second bottle as I felt like because no one else would be around to see. My addiction loved that part. The freedom to glug, glug. glug it up. It was like having a huge party for one person. Sad, really.

Turns out, I'm far from the only person whose brain operated this way. All of us in last night's group did this. I am willing to bet that most other addicts do it, as well. It's a strange, knee-jerk reaction, akin to taking off your shoes after a long day. Exhaling. Anticipating the fix. I suppose a food addict might see this as an opportunity to have a huge smorgasbord. A sex addict might see this as a way to spend the whole weekend watching porn. Just fill in the blank; it's all the same, really.


It reminds me of an old Simpson's episode in which Homer decides to stay home on cold Sunday morning while everyone else goes to church. He sleeps in, turns up the heat, dances around the house in his underwear, makes a huge breakfast for himself and watches football.  I (heart) The Simpsons.

Friday, August 15, 2014

ARGH! PAWS is back.

It started yesterday. Not good timing, as I had a class of people to teach after work and needed all the available positivity and energy I could muster. I started dragging ass around noon, got through the afternoon alright, but was in desperate need of a strong coffee from the cafe across the street by 5 (class started at 6). The coffee helped me get through class, but here I am again, a day later, feeling draggy. I have another class to teach starting at 5, so I am already thinking about jaunting over to the cafe. The best way I can describe the level of fatigue is like coming off anesthesia. I had to get "the gas" once for a minor surgical procedure back in my twenties and afterward, I was awoken from the best sleep I think I had ever had in my life. There was nothing I wanted more than to go back to sleep and be left alone. It's that level of tired. In case you are wondering, I am getting plenty of sleep and exercise and I am eating very well. This has to be PAWS, coming back to haunt me. Oh, when will this end? Actually, I ought to be grateful, if this is the worst consequence of my drinking career. It's actually a sign of getting better, of my body and brain normalizing itself.

I hate to use a drug (caffiene) to deal with this, but I can't come up with a better option at this point.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Service, Advocacy and Recovery Addiction

How's that for a topic?

I'll start with service, because that was this week's Bubble Hour topic. I am still in early recovery, but the more time I have in sobriety, the more I would like to be of service. I'm not sure what that looks like, exactly. In the SMART recovery program, we don't have sponsors. But, we do have weekly exchanges/check-ins with the people in our group. Our organizer has our contact information and I think we all have his, so if one of us should be in crisis, someone is available. I don't think it's fair that it should all fall on him. He is doing an incredible service to us by organizing the meeting, providing the space, coming up with weekly exercises, making coffee for everyone and supplying workbooks. I feel like there ought to be ways that we can all be of service to each other, besides listening and helping people through difficult situations on a weekly basis.

In AA, people sign up for commitments, which is generally little things at meetings like greeting people and making beverages. This may include sponsorship, I don't know. I strongly agree with the AA theory about service. Helping others helps you stay sober. It's a two-way street.

This brings me to advocacy. I finally saw The Anonymous People, which is a very powerful documentary about taking the stigma away from people in recovery. In it, there are people in long term recovery who speak out on behalf of people with addiction, lobbying hard to change legislation and provide real faces and stories with recovery. In my last post, I talked about how I am not afraid to publicly identify as an alcoholic. I don't think it ought to be a secret or something to be ashamed of. Of course, I must be talking out of my ass, because I have yet to "come out" to my family and extended group of friends about it. I do intend to let people know, but I don't want to just rush out of the gate with it, either. I suppose, if I am asked, I won't withhold or lie, but if I'm not asked, maybe I won't bring it up. I don't know. It really depends on the circumstance. I am thinking about making a soft announcement on Facebook when I get to 6 months or a year (universe-willing). Anyway, I would really like to get involved in advocacy, too, though, again, I am not sure what that looks like for me.

So, I am going to end this post with the idea of recovery addiction. In my mind, this is when an addict becomes completely absorbed with their recovery to the point where it may have negative consequences. This is a personal journey for us, no one-size-fits-all. But we are all addicts. That part of our brain that we fucked up? It's all pretty much the same for each of us. My personal concern is over-committing or being so ensconced in my program that I begin to lose touch with the things in my life that I am fighting for in recovery. Things like my marriage and my friendships. I don't want to get to a point where I can't do something important with my husband because I have a recovery thing to do. This is a tricky subject, I realize, because most people will say that you can't be good for anyone unless you put your recovery first, and I totally get that. But I also have an addicted brain which can be one-tracked if I don't manage it, and I worry that I will get so heavily absorbed in all the wonderful things that recovery offers, I might lose perspective. So, it's a balancing act for all of us. For me, I think it means moderation. It's periodically checking in to make sure that I'm still completely available to the man I love, all while finding ways to be of service and advocate for people in recovery at the same time.

So much to sort through!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not So Anonymous

It's funny, when I started this blog, I was still drinking. I was questioning whether or not I was an alcoholic and I embarked on a moderation adventure, which, though I thought it was successful at the onset, turned out to be a colossal failure. I slid right back into my old drinking patterns pretty quickly. I was not ready to come out as an alcoholic at the time. I wasn't even willing to utter the word out loud, let alone attach myself to it. I was terrified. So I remained anonymous. I didn't tell anyone about this blog, nor did I reach out into the blogsphere for other people like me. I think I was holding out hope that maybe I wasn't an alcoholic, that perhaps I could turn things around and behave like a normie.

I didn't know much about the disease at the time. I mean, just look at that last sentence. "Behave like a normie." Alcoholism isn't a behavior to be controlled, like remembering to sit up straight or floss your teeth. It's an illness. As I wrestled with this, I held on to anonymity because I carried around so much fear. I was afraid of judgement and this created a horrible sense of shame and guilt. Again, not understanding the condition, I assigned blame to myself for "refusing to stop" drinking. I am not suggesting that there isn't accountability involved. I most certainly accept responsibility for putting my liver and pancreas through the ringer. I did that. No one else did. I get that. But I also get that I am predisposed to this illness and that I waltzed right on into it as naturally as can be. It's a complicated thing, but there is a definite reason some of us become addicts and others don't and it doesn't have much to do with willpower.

So, when I finally peeled this protective layer of lies and denial away from my soul, I felt something that surprised the heck out of me. Relief. I had liberated myself. I didn't have to cling to this ridiculous notion that I can simply "cut back." There was a reason I couldn't and every attempt I made to do so was just another opportunity to fail myself. How come other people could stick their hands in the fire and not get burned, but every time I did, I wound up a welted mess? It didn't seem fair. Until I had the courage to entertain the notion that I was an addict. The amount of fear involved in facing that label is overwhelming, but once you do, well, I can only speak for myself here, but it is so fucking emancipating. I revealed my real name on this blog, where I am from, what I do, who I am. Yes, I am an alcoholic in recovery, but I am so much more! And so is everyone in recovery. We have so much to offer the world. We aren't this one-dimensional thing that is obsessed with booze, which is what the stigma of alcoholism offers the world. We are husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, professionals, moms, dads, best friends, etc.

Once the fear of the label is gone, acceptance of the disease is much easier. So, why is it that so many people continue to live with this "secret?" It's like they admit that they are powerless to alcohol in the safe haven of their group, but walk around the whole rest of their lives never discussing it? Acting as if recovery isn't this fucking huge part who they are? As if recovery isn't responsible for all of the positive change in their lives? I'm not judging, but I don't want to be part of any organization that promotes secrecy about recovery. I'm not going to play this game where I can speak freely about my truth to these people, but, those people over there can't know my struggle. Fuck. that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three months ago ...

... I had my last drink. At least, I hope and pray it was my last drink. Every day seems to be easier than the last, though every so often a curve ball comes my way. I just remind myself that the moment is temporary and that it will pass.

After my extreme fatigue went away, I started feeling great. I still do. Generally speaking, I sleep well. I no longer have acid reflux, which I had given myself after years of daily drinking. I actually started wheezing and coughing as a daily consequence of my alcoholism, but was still not ready to stop. Now, it's as if it never happened. But that's one of the quirky things about alcoholism. When you go back to feeling great, your disease taps you on the back and offers you a drink. And you're like, "Well, what's the harm?" At the moment, I am winning the fight. But I know that this can change because I have no idea what sort of situations wait for me in the future. So, all I can do is use the practical tools I have found in recovery to empower myself through those situations and hope I remain sober on the other side. Thankfully, there is a community of supportive people who get it and can come to my aid should I need them.

May the force be with us all.

 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Three Reasons to Stay Sober

My Three Kings
Who are the luckiest kitties in the world? These guys! Spoiled and adorable, they are part of my motivation to remain in recovery.