Self-Talk

Acceptance

I was partaking in some retail therapy this past weekend and lo and behold as I rounded a corner in the department store to check out the racks of sunglasses, I saw this lovely note tucked away:

lovethislife

Someone clearly intentionally put this reminder out to be found. I was the one who needed to find it.

My emotions have been all over the place recently (as if you couldn’t tell, haha!). Obviously I’m working out my grief over the loss of my father 3 years ago, but for whatever reason, my soul chose this past weekend to start grieving the end of my marriage.

Let me be clear – I do not want to continue in this marriage. It has run it’s course. While everyone always has the same question, “What happened?” anyone who has ever had a long term relationship end knows that there’s just not a simple answer to that question.

For the past several years I’ve felt nothing for the most part. The anger and resentment would rise and I would stifle it back down (with booze – SURPRISE!).  I didn’t feel heard or appreciated but I sure did feel lonely.

This weekend, maybe due to the flood gates already being opened by grief, I started to feel it all. There was so much pain coming from every direction it felt like.

Then I saw this sweet reminder in the middle of a department store.

I won’t lie, I didn’t turn my life around suddenly and decide to be happy right then and there. That’s not fair to my soul.  That quote from The Fault in Our Stars says it all…”That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” So I spent the rest of the weekend and some of today feeling it.

Then this evening I was thinking about how miserable I was making myself. I scrolled through my photos and saw this, remembering how I found it.  That’s when it clicked.

It’s okay for me to not be okay concerning the end of my marriage right now. This is uncharted territory for me and the future is unknown.  There are so many questions racing through my mind constantly about what will be.

But I’m here now. I have two beautiful children, a job that I love, a few good friends and I’ve given myself the best gift ever – my sobriety. How could I not “love this life?”

So tonight I put on my big girl panties and I sent my ex an e-mail apologizing for some hurtful things I said over the weekend to him.  Things are not all rosy now between us just because I sent that e-mail but that’s okay. I know I did the right thing and that’s what matters. I know I will try harder to be the best person I can be, even in my dealings with a difficult situation such as divorce.

I have to accept my life as it is now. I have to accept the choices that led me here and how I choose to react to it all. Acceptance is something I know I need to work towards and I’d prefer to get there with some grace and dignity this time around. I’d prefer to get there with a positive attitude.

So that’s what I choose. I choose to own my life and work towards accepting and loving it just as it is because I only get one.

Grief · Uncategorized

No Title Will Do This Justice

image1
Thanks for that reminder, Starbucks.

He died 3 years ago.

Grief is a funny thing and not so much in the haha funny sort of way but more so the oh, isn’t that just so ironic and sad sort of way.

3 years and 4 months ago my life started to spiral out of control, but of course I didn’t know that then. It’s unfortunate that we can’t quite piece together everything until much later when we look back, but it is what it is.

This is when my drinking started to become less fun and more coping mechanism. Each newly discovered tumor, each new doctor’s appointment with more bad news, each day watching him shrink and lose more energy and life became another reason to drink just one more.

My grandparents died before I was born. I had never really experienced a major loss in my life.  But there I was, 31 years old with two young babies, a full-time job and the weight of the world on my shoulders as I watched my father die a little each day.

There are many types of men in this world. My father was an independent spirit, far from perfect as he battled his own alcoholic demons long ago, but nevertheless, a good man. He prided himself on his ability to take care of and provide for himself and his family after growing up with his own alcoholic, dirt poor parents who divorced during a time when divorce was frowned upon.

Yet here he was, at first angry and frustrated as daily he lost his ability to take care of himself let alone anyone else. He died with a grace and acceptance that I can only dream of having when my time comes, but watching the man who picked you up with you fell and tried to give you the world he was never given need his diaper changed and his mouth swabbed with a wet sponge for comfort could break a person.  It surely broke me.

Imbibing a beer or three each night as I returned home from helping my mom and family care for him seemed a small price to pay at the time.  Relief came in the way my muscles relaxed and senses dulled as the alcohol worked it’s magic the way it’s known to do. My mind stopped racing with the “What if’s” and “when he dies” and anxiety over the unknown for just that short time as I drank my feelings away.

This became more of a habit as the end approached. It was easier to drink and forget than feel.  The problem was, I would remember in the morning.

Then one morning, he didn’t wake up.  I thanked God because by this time he was simply a skeleton in that hospital bed in the living room who no long spoke or laughed or hugged me.

So I drank. I didn’t know how else to handle feelings of that magnitude.  Ignoring them and numbing them with alcohol when they became too much to ignore (which was nearly always) was easier and hurt less than acknowledging them and sitting in them. Until it didn’t.

2 and a half years I spent in a fog.  The first few months I didn’t think too much of the drinking, but by the first anniversary of his death, I knew I was getting in too deep. That didn’t stop me though.  Nothing could convince me that truly feeling his absence was worth it. So I kept drinking.

I wasn’t drinking before or during work.  I was high-functioning.  From the outside I’m sure it looked as though I’d dealt with my loss fairly quickly and without much destruction. In fact, someone recently told me just that – “You always seemed so okay.” I was anything but okay but I wouldn’t risk my job so I supplemented my avoidance with men. If I could distract myself with alcohol and male attention, I didn’t have to deal with my truth.

The next year passed and I knew I’d crossed a point of no return.  My brokenness was manifesting itself in every way possible so that others would begin to notice except for the one person who needed to – me. By the end of this year, blacking out was becoming a normal part of my drinking sessions. Drink until you can’t remember. Drink until you can’t feel.

I had attempted the typical relief tactics by this point – moderation, short bouts of sobriety, therapy with a counselor who spent more time judging me than listening to me. Nothing helped. On top of the grief I never dealt with I was filled with shame, guilt and humiliation on a daily basis. So I kept drinking so I could numb it all. It was too much.

Relationships with friends and relatives had been destroyed.  My marriage, while in jeopardy long before this period of my life, was so clearly over. While drunk I lashed out at anyone who was within 50 feet of me. If I had to hurt, I wanted everyone to hurt.

pain
From Pema Chodron’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings”

When the second anniversary of his death rolled around, I knew something had to give and soon. I laid low through the summer but by fall I was back at it.  I was tired of blacking out and feeling like shit all the time so I started having longer periods of sobriety and I found a therapist I actually connected with, one who gets me. I found other ways to avoid my feelings but in the end, for one reason or another, I would end up back with the booze.

On December 17, 2016 I blacked out for the final time. My recovery journey began on December 18.  I could no longer deny or ignore the fact that my life had become unmanageable.

So here I am. Sober for the 153rd day, on the third anniversary of his death and for the first time, finally feeling this grief. Oh, how it hurts. It’s a pain I would wish upon no one, not even an enemy. I understand now though. This pain is so deep, so raw, that I understand why I drank and chased attention to avoid feeling it.  Because it hurts like no other pain I’ve ever experienced. I see now that I did the best I could at that time and for today at least, I forgive myself, because I get it now. I get how much it hurts.

 My heart is broken in a way that it’s never been broken before.  There is an emptiness that I suspect will never fully be filled but that I must somehow learn to accept and live with.  So I take this life, this grief, one day at a time. I pause and breathe and read and write and practice yoga and ask for what I need because I don’t ever want to go back.  For as much as this pain is breaking me, it’s not destroying me the way alcohol did.

I miss you Dad.

Mental Illness · Self-Care

I Sing Alone

canaries

Glennon Doyle Melton has this beautiful analogy comparing the mentally ill/addicts to canaries.  She explains it much more eloquently than I can, but the short version is as follows: Long ago, canaries were taken into mines because of their sensitivities to toxins in the air.  If they stopped singing, their carriers knew they needed to turn back because it would be dangerous to go on.  Addicts and those who live with mental illness are the canaries who are extremely sensitive, more so than others, to all of the world’s bullshit.

I feel very much like a canary today. My emotions are running high and I am picking up on all the other vibes from people around me. My morning started well but then I walked into a room that was clearly filled with tension and negativity.  Anxiety took over my body and mind almost immediately. I could not focus on anything except how awful I was feeling being in this environment. I wanted nothing more than to flee.

I looked around and I could see that most of the people in the room were oblivious to what was happening.  There were two however who were clearly the ones I was picking up the vibes from.  Scowls covered their faces, eyes were rolling and whispers about what a waste of time this was were rampant. My jaw clenched, my stomach did flips and I just felt so WRONG. I didn’t feel like the me I’ve started to get used to – calm, cautious, careful but doing my best to stay positive. I was being consumed by negativity.

I survived this experience but holy shit, was it ever hard. I left feeling angry and hurt that I’d let other people’s negative words and actions affect my attitude for the day. I was barely holding back from letting loose and giving the two people who were just downright RUDE a piece of my mind until finally I was able to leave.  I literally BOLTED out of the room and on to my next meeting.  Other people started texting me and asking where I was and I was in no position to be around others because I knew I would bring everyone else down. So I spent the afternoon working alone because I needed that time to refocus my energy and bring myself back to a place of positivity and peace.

The great news is – it worked. I just needed that time and space to refocus myself.  The strange news is – some people got worried because I “isolated” myself and asked to be alone for awhile. It’s so weird how the world works sometimes. I was just so proud of myself for recognizing how angry and terrible I was feeling and coping by walking away and taking some time to myself to calm down instead of wallowing in it and letting it grow into something bigger. I was proud that I even asked for what I needed and took care of myself.

This is the thing though – people who are not canaries do not understand. Besides the fact that my moods seem to be easily affected by other people’s moods, I feel things so, terribly deeply.  It’s literally indescribable.  This is the sensitivity of the canary.

Perhaps someone who is not a canary would not have been as affected as me by the few negative people in the room this morning, so they didn’t get it.  For me though, I stopped singing.  I was entering dangerous territory and it HURT. I wanted to run, escape, make it STOP because when I feel, I feel SO MUCH that sometimes it feels like I might break.

This is both a curse and a blessing as I’m sure many of those who read my blog will certainly understand.  The positive feelings are amplified just as much as the negative.  When I love, I love with every part of my being.  My joy and gratitude and contentment run just as deeply as my shame and guilt and anger.

I am a canary in this world and some days, like today, I sing alone.

sensitive

Self-Talk

True Things

WhatIKnow
Glennon’s list from Love Warrior.

I recently read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and it was a wonderful read. I took away so much from it.  I took a photo (see above) of one page in particular that really resonated with me, one that displays a list of 5 things Glennon wrote that she knows for sure. It’s a beautiful list that I’ve read and reread multiple times since I finished her book to help keep me grounded.

There have been several things that have thrown me off balance over the past few weeks.  Nothing life shattering but enough at once that from time to time I feel shaken.  I think it’s important to have a set of beliefs that you can cling to in these times.  Right now, as I figure out myself and my own beliefs as a sober woman, I’m borrowing Glennon’s list to find my balance again until I am ready to make my own.

The one thing I would add to her list, the one thing I do know for sure to be a true thing at this point is this:

6.  You will survive. You may not want to, but you will and that will be enough.

We may not end up where we wanted to be, but we will always end up where we need to be.

Stigma

Sitting in the Discomfort

found

Life is hard.

My hard might not be the same as your hard but it’s hard. Today several things came together as sort of a perfect storm and I almost drank.

Thankfully during the past 139 days the urge to drink has been few and far between for me and never too strong.  Until today.

However, let me repeat myself. I almost drank. I almost drank.  But I DIDN’T.

I sat feeling all these emotions and I was tired and hungry and my mind was racing and I knew I was not in a good place. So I did the only thing I could think of that might possibly save me (and it did) – I texted a sober friend and word vomited the craziness bouncing around in my head.

I don’t actually know this friend “in real life” – we met through an online community of women in recovery. But holy shit, has she been the best friend and mentor a girl like me in recovery could ask for. I believe with all my heart the universe purposefully led our paths to cross and I will be forever grateful.

She talked me off the ledge and reminded me that while the first 30 minutes might feel nice, it wouldn’t stop at 30 minutes.  She is a big reason I will wake to see 140 days of sobriety tomorrow.

I have a great online community of people in recovery who get it.  People who understand, who love me without judging me and see the good in me – they know I’m more than my addiction or poor choices in the past.

I am angry that the “real world,” including “real” people in my life do not. To be honest, there are people who know I’m sober now without knowing much about why or what happened to lead me here and overall they’ve been great about it.  However, for a variety of reasons, I can’t truly be out and honest about my recovery with people who know me in real life.

This sucks on so many levels.

The one that really gets me though is that I can’t be who I am. I am proud of my recovery and I am learning to own my journey and know that I am truly a good person who has made some mistakes.  I am a survivor, a fighter.  Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who would only see me as my addiction if I were to live my life as authentically as possible.  With two young children to protect, I cannot risk it.

So for now, I am being authentic where I am safe. I dream of a day when we can all just be who we truly are without fear of consequences. When we can make mistakes and still be considered good, capable human beings.  When we can mess up and still love each other through it.

No matter who you are or where you are in your journey, I hope you know that there will always be one person who believes in you and your goodness and that is me. I know you’ve been through some shit but you’re still standing and fighting and you’re here. I am proud of you and I love you.  In case no one has told you that, you need to hear it and I want to be the one to tell you. The world may be full of people who don’t get it but look for us, the ones who do get it – we are waiting for you.  You are safe here.

And thank you to all of you who have kept me safe on this journey.

Self-Care

Tales from 5 a.m.

yoga

I have officially lost my mind.  Remember when I wrote about those crazy people who wake up at 5 am? Well, I’m trying that lifestyle out for a bit.

I’ve told myself I am only doing this for one week.  It makes it feel doable for me.  Though I also told myself I’d only stop drinking for one year and here I am at 136 days in and I never want to pick up a drink again and feel the way I felt back when I was drinking so heavily. Isn’t it funny how that works?

So Monday morning I woke up at 5 am.  I meditated for 10 minutes to start the day.  I followed my meditation with about 10 minutes of yoga. (I followed along to one of the Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube.) Then I broke out my bullet journal, (I’m a HUGE fan of bullet journaling!), and worked on planning my day while enjoying my first cup of coffee for the day.  At about 6 am I showered and got ready for work. I was out the door by 7 am.

I am shocked to admit it but this all seemed to have made a difference for me on Monday.  It was a long day to begin with as we had several things to do that evening and we didn’t get home until almost 9 pm.  I can honestly say though that for the majority of the day I felt so much more focused, energized and I was definitely much more productive than usual.

Of course I figured it was a fluke.

So I followed the same 5 am routine on Tuesday followed by a slightly less hectic, yet still busy, Tuesday evening. I had the same results.  I was a bit more tired by the evening on Tuesday than I had been on Monday but I had also eaten crap most of the day and had more mental/emotional stress (though nothing extremely overwhelming or even worth noting.) The cool thing was, being clear headed (aka SOBER) and more focused I was very aware of my body’s needs. I KNEW I needed sleep to recover from two early, long days.

So I gave myself what I needed and slept in today until 6:15.  Holy shit, what a different morning it was. I was completely unfocused and tense as I rushed to shower and get ready then run out the door. I got to work and still felt tense and a bit more focused but not like I was the past two days! I also was back to being very tired in the late afternoon/early evening today.

I’m okay with all of that. I knew I needed the sleep so I’m fine with having slept in a bit today. I also appreciate that I was able to see such a stark difference between the mornings I woke up early and spent some time on me versus the morning I did not.  I would never have noticed these little things if I were still drinking. I am grateful that I am able to do so now.

What does this all mean? It means that I definitely see the benefit to waking up early for meditation, yoga and journaling.  It means that now that I’m tired but feel more rested after a day to sleep in a bit, I plan to be back up at 5 am tomorrow again.  It also means that I need to come up with a plan for the weekend.  Originally I thought, there is no way in HELL I’d get up at 5 am on a weekend…but, well…it felt good. I’m not 100% ready to commit to the weekend yet but I’m certainly thinking seriously about it. I’m also pretty sure I’ll be up at 5 am next week too. This all begs one very important question however…

WHO. AM. I?!?!

alcohol

Good news at last

happy

In the midst of the uncertainty of my life, there has been some good news this week.  Let me start at the beginning.

It was Labor Day weekend of 2015.  I joined two of my friends for a Girl’s Night Out in a nearby city.  Dinner and drinks and lots of laughs. Everything was fine for awhile, but towards the end of the night, as usual, I started to let things go too far.  I didn’t black out and maybe that was one of my saving graces of being an addict – it took a whole hell of a lot more than the 5-7 drinks I had that night to make me black out.  It also meant though, that I remember everything about that night.

At the end of the evening, I met a man who was visiting from out of town. I was feeling good and lost my inhibitions as typically happened when I drank and made out with him in the bar in front of everyone. While my husband and kids were at home.

At some point I realized this was not a great idea and abruptly left.  Everyone followed me out of the bar and my friends were worried about me driving but I assured them I was fine. Because technically, for me, I was fine. I hadn’t blacked out.

I made it to my car and found that the guy had followed me. He asked me if I was okay to drink which I assured him I was and I offered to drive him back to his hotel. Looking back, I can see what mixed signals this gave and I cringe.  But it happened and I own it.

So as I’m driving out of town, I run right into a sobriety checkpoint because it’s Labor Day weekend and why the fuck not. I knew I was in trouble but at this point there was nothing I could do but walk (or drive I guess) into the fire. So I did.

As I was being given the sobriety test by a very kind officer, the stranger who had been in the passenger seat of my car slipped out and walked away down the street.  While being given the test I was telling the officer how I would probably lose my job and my husband after this.  Another not-so-kind officer who overheard asked in front of everyone if the guy I was with was my husband and I honestly answered, no.  He shamed me then in front of everyone noting that, “You’re husband sure wouldn’t be happy to know you were with him.”  No shit, Sherlock.

It was determined that while I wasn’t super drunk, I was definitely too drunk to be driving so I was arrested and put in a paddy wagon with several other women who were in the same boat.  The arresting officer was kind though and apologized, saying he understood I wasn’t very drunk.  I told him he was just doing his job and it was my fault for thinking I could drive.  I knew I had to own what was happening in the moment. Shit had just gotten so real for me.

The officers I came into contact from this point on were all very nice, probably because I was very respectful and nice as well.  I also held very normal conversations with them through the rest of the night.  When they handcuffed me to put me in the paddy wagon, one of the cuffs was too loose and I could slip my hand out.  So I did right then and there and showed the officer, asking him to tighten it.  Needless to say, he was quite surprised and then re-did the handcuffs appropriately.  I even joked with the one who took my mugshot and said, I bet you’ve never had to do this for someone who is as sober as me right now and he replied, “No, actually I haven’t.”

At the time it felt like such a kick in the ass from the universe because of all the times I had been so beyond drunk what I was that night and still drove, this was the night I was caught.  Now I realized how ridiculous it was to think that way and I thank God I was clear-headed enough to be as respectful as I was and not make things worse by being blacked out or belligerent.

As the night wore on, the ladies and I were booked one by one and put in a big cell together until we could get in contact with someone to come get us.  One by one they left and there I was alone.  For whatever reason, my mother had her cell phone and home phone turned off that evening.  The only night that has ever happened.  My husband refused to come get me when the officers called him. By 2 am or so everyone had left but me. I slept only an hour or so on a cold jail cell floor that night with my ankles shackled under a scratchy blanket.

At around 6 am, I called one of the friends who I had been out with the night before.  She immediately came to get me, helped me find where my car had been towed so I would know where to go later and then took me home to where I would have one of the longest mornings of my life. In front of my kids, I had to pretend I was fine.  We had somewhere to be that morning so I showered and got ready and we went.  By this time, I was able to contact my mom who came to watch my kids while we went to get my car.  By afternoon I was beyond broken and exhausted.  I told my husband everything, declared that I could and would never drink again and took a nap.

My husband showed me more grace than I deserved. Even if he hadn’t though, he couldn’t have been harder on me than I was on myself.  I had never felt humiliation like I did because of this experience.  Thankfully, my employer showed me grace as well.  You see, I am a teacher.  The general public typically expects teachers to be perfect, but we are flawed individuals as well.  I am beyond grateful to work for people who understand that no one is perfect.

I was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and was able to complete a program for first-time offenders where I attended a presentation by families who had loved ones killed in drunk driving accidents, lost my license for 30 days, paid a large fine, completed community service and took a safe driving class.  The worst punishment however was the overwhelming guilt and humiliation which lasted for more than a year.  Every now and then I feel shame about it still but at this point I’ve come to accept that it’s a part of my story whether I like it or not and I must own it.

So what does this all have to do with the good news?  Well, when this happened, I figured my goal of one day becoming a principal was just never going to happen. (Even though I know school leaders who have gotten DUI’s.) I gave up on that dream.  Recently though, I thought it might be worth a try.  So I applied for a program to get my certificate to become a principal.  I went through the lengthy application process to an in-state university which included a question on the application about my criminal background.

I almost didn’t apply because of that question.  I thought, no way am I admitting this to a university.  I will never get in.  I mulled over it for a few days.  Then I decided to go for it and own it.  So I clicked, “Yes.” Yes, I have a criminal background.  No, I’m not proud of that. So far from it.

I also needed recommendation letters.  “Who the hell is going to recommend me knowing that I got a DUI?” I thought.  I felt more of the shame and humiliation but I walked through it and asked for these letters.  No one brought up my DUI from 1.5 years ago.  They simply wrote wonderful letters for me.  I wanted to cry.  I do not deserve this grace I thought.

Things were going smoothly with the application process.  My contact at the university told me they had everything they needed and were reviewing everything.  The next day an e-mail was waiting for me.  My contact informed me that the admissions department noticed I had checked “Yes” about having a criminal history and they would like me to explain further. My stomach dropped. My heart filled with shame.  This was it. I was not going to get in. For a split second I thought I should just ignore the e-mail and forget about it all. Move on.

No. I had to own this and I had to own it all the way through as painful as it was.  Whatever happened, I had to know I at least tried.  So I wrote a brief explanation in response and waited. And waited. And waited.

3 days later and another e-mail. I burst into tears. I WAS ACCEPTED.

It’s hard for me to remember sometimes but I am more than the DUI.  I am more than my mistakes.  I am more than my addiction.  I am more.

Self-Care

Productivity and Predictability

routine

I’ve been thinking a lot about my routine lately, in particular how I spend my time.  Before I was sober, I spent most of my free time drinking, recovering from drinking or thinking about drinking. During the first month of my sobriety I then spent most of my free time thinking about not drinking.  I also took part in a minimalist challenge and ended up cleaning out many things from my house.  I figured I had to keep busy somehow. I was amazed at the time I had now that I wasn’t drinking.

Month two brought time spent thinking about not drinking and thinking about all the things I was suddenly feeling, like how my marriage was at a breaking point.  This is when my husband and I separated. Besides thinking and feeling I started doing yoga at home with my kids. And I sort of just wandered around, lost.

After the separation and into month 3 I still spent a lot of time thinking about not drinking and what would become of my marriage but I also started doing more.  Once my husband moved out, I took charge and for a few weeks I took on every single household task and began getting rid of more and trying to get organized in some way.  As I sifted through all of the stuff we had accumulated it became very clear that 1) we seriously had way too much fucking stuff and 2) I clearly did not keep up with cleaning and organizing well while I was actively in my addiction. Gross.

Month 4 I got a little lazy because I was thinking and feeling a lot. Loneliness, anger, resentment, fear, anxiety would often paralyze me.  So I thought, felt and read in order to try to make sense of everything. Then I started writing as I needed an outlet for all these feelings and a way to share my story and feel less alone.

I’m in month 5 now and I’m still thinking but back to doing more. I’m cooking meals and baking bread which I had previously given up as being in the kitchen preparing meals was a trigger for me early on in my sobriety.

bread
Two fresh homemade loaves of bread made by yours truly!

 I signed up for yoga classes that will begin soon in May.  (Question:  Why does it seem like people in recovery always do yoga?)  My mom helped me begin to spring clean and I’ve gotten rid of even more unnecessary stuff. (How do we end up with so. much. stuff?) I’ve completely rearranged my dining room and I’m halfway through reorganizing my kitchen. I deep cleaned my freezer (which I’m fairly sure I’ve never done considering all I found).  I even felt secure enough in my sobriety to start selling all of my alcohol paraphernalia:  wine glasses galore, a rolling bar, a wine bottle holder, bartending tools…and let me tell you, that is so freeing. 

All of this productivity has made me reflect more on my daily schedule as well.  It is extremely important to me currently to practice daily self-care. I read about these people who swear by getting up at 5:00 am to meditate and do yoga and journal to start their day.  They claim it just sets the right tone for the day. Frankly, I’ve always believed that sleeping as late as possible is the best way to start my day.  However, now that I’m more in tune with myself and I want to stay that way and continue healing and “doing the work” I wonder if I should try something like this. (Calm down – I’m just in the wondering stage. Hell may have to freeze over first before I start willingly giving up an extra hour of sleep.)

I’ve also analyzed the time I have in the evenings after packing tomorrow’s lunches and making dinner and ensuring that homework has been completed.  Some of it I’ve spent reading, some of it I’ve spent cleaning and organizing, some of it I’ve spent writing and sometimes I spend it just resting.

I wonder though if I should have more of a defined schedule for myself. Up at 5 for meditating (which would probably just put me back to sleep), off to work by 7, home for the evening by 5:30, dinner, then this on Mondays, that on Tuesdays, that on Wednesdays…

I’m not even really sure what that would accomplish. Maybe more productivity. I think mostly it would just satiate my desire for control. Isn’t that what it boils down to? If I have a strict routine then I know what to expect, life is predictable and I’m in control. As we all know though, life is anything but predictable.

Relapse

When is enough, enough?

life

Stardate:  4/24/17
Captain’s Log

It’s been 5,389,108,038 days since I’ve had a drink.

Fuck no it’s not. It’s been 127 but right now in this moment it feels like a lot longer. I feel a familiar restlessness.  Boredom. Boredom is never a good sign.

I have this sinking feeling I’m on the verge of a relapse. I have these secret thoughts trying to snake their way through my mind.

“You can probably handle just one.”
“Drink once then go back to being sober.”
“Just do it and don’t tell anyone.”
“Summer is almost here…are you really not going to drink at the beach? On the deck at home?”

So I’m putting a stop to it now by owning it and telling the world. Okay, telling anyone who reads this. The point is, I’m not keeping it a secret.

Oh, and I’m not actually going to drink, don’t worry. I want to. A LOT. But I fucking refuse to give up this easily.

Recognizing these signs has been key for me. I know boredom is a trigger for me. I also know nice weather is a trigger. I also know there are deeper things going on.

My husband and I are separated. We have been since mid-February. We have no idea if we will reconcile eventually or divorce and truly there’s no rush but this being in limbo is starting to wear me down. I don’t like not knowing. I like to have a plan. So this is fucking hard.

What’s really driving me crazy is that I don’t know what I want. Part of me wants to save our marriage.  Look back when we’re 80 and say, “Holy fuck, we survived all of that!” (And we truly have been through damn near everything you could think of. Yes, even that.)  The other part of me wants freedom from the brokenness of what we’ve become. At this point, neither of us are meeting the other one’s needs and this part of me wants to let go. While I have no desire to end my marriage in hopes for “greener pastures” as I know damn well that another man/relationship/marriage would just mean another set of problems, maybe there is someone out there better suited for each of us as we’ve become very different people than we were when we were younger. Even for him – Lord knows I have not made his life easy the past few years and there’s a lot of needs of his I know I am not meeting though that’s difficult for him to admit. And maybe I’m the one who’s better suited to meet my own needs. The entire situation is not sitting well with me recently which is a driving force for my discomfort. I don’t know how to answer the question, “When is it giving up versus when is enough, enough?”

There’s instability and big changes coming at work as well. This is another source of anxiety and discomfort for me. In the end I am confident that things will be okay but for now, it’s the “not knowing” once again that throws me off balance. (Has it become obvious yet that I’m a Type A personality who feels the need to be in control of everything?) Also…wow…this one is hard to write…I also thought that the career I chose was my life’s purpose. I was put on this earth to do what I do. It is my passion.  However…recently…as I experience more of my own recovery and form relationships with other addicts in recovery and read and hear more stories like mine…the pull in my heart has slowly begun to change directions. What if? What if I’m supposed to share my story? Work with addicts? Change the stigma? Help someone else who struggles the way I struggle? I don’t even know what form that would take or how it would look. It’s just this tiny voice, calling from within, that maybe there’s something else out there that I’m supposed to do.

I’m also becoming very aware of my relationship with food lately. When I was drinking I didn’t give much thought to that because frankly, I wasn’t eating much since I drank so much. Now I have a lot more time and clarity to notice what I’m choosing to put into my body and the fact that I’m actively choosing to put in things that give me a certain comfort as opposed to those that might be a healthier option. It doesn’t help that swimsuit season is quickly approaching and while I talk a good game to those who know me about owning my curves and strutting around proudly in my “fatkini” I don’t feel half as confident as I pretend to.

There is a gentle nudging from deep within me.  It is quiet but getting louder each day, telling me that I’m going to have to face these issues that I so clearly do not want to deal with if I want any relief from feeling like I’m walking a fine line between sobriety and relapse.

“It’s hard to find what is the truest thing about us if all we do is keep running and running and running.” – Unknown

alcohol

Freedom

freedom2

I am aching for freedom.  Or maybe I should say, I am aching for more freedom.

AuntieLex  recently wrote a post that I read about having the label of alcoholic.  How do we end up with that label? Who decides?

I’ve struggled with the stigma of the word “alcoholic” for years.  When I finally surrendered to the label in December of 2016, more shame, guilt and dishonor piled on top of the mountain of negative feelings I already had about myself.  I only used it when absolutely necessary with my closest family and friends, no more than a handful, and mostly it was to remind myself and those same people, my loving enablers, that I just cannot drink anymore. With tears streaming down my face and my breath catching between sobs, I blurted out to my therapist in one particular session that, “I AM an alcoholic” and it felt more like I was punishing myself by making myself say that loaded word to a stranger (in a sense) rather than owning a self-truth.

Reflecting on this made me think of Laura McKowen’s recent blog post.  McKowen provokes her readers by suggesting that the real question we should be asking ourselves isn’t, “Am I an alcoholic?” but rather, “Am I free?”

Mind blowing.

Ever since I read her post, this question has been stirring in my heart. It’s a question that allows me to own my truth – that I have a problem with alcohol. That I lose control and become a person I am not proud of and make choices that I don’t remember but make me feel as though I’ve violated myself, others around me, and the world. That I am anything but free when I drink.  As a result, I’ve stepped back from using “alcoholic” as part of my identity. It doesn’t change the fact that I simply cannot drink ever again because when I do drink, I lose the freedom that I have learned I so desperately need.

While sobriety has given me a freedom that I forgot existed, there are other ramifications I also forgot about.  A clear mind means every feeling must be felt, thoroughly, and often many times over. This leads to fully understanding that there are areas of my life that can no longer be silenced with a blackout.  I am trapped by my own inability and unwillingness to make changes in these areas and as so many of us painfully know, feeling trapped will eventually lead to my downfall if I do not attempt to address them head on.

As difficult as I know this will be, I am acutely aware that I must do so. I want more freedom. I want to be free from the feelings of guilt, inadequacy, resentment, anger and unresolved issues surrounding my broken marriage. I want to be free from feeling under-appreciated and undervalued yet overwhelmed at my job. I want to be free from the feelings that I’m just not cut out to be a mother and I’m screwing up my kids left and right.

I want more freedom. I need more freedom. My soul, my sober soul, is demanding it, screaming from the deepest depths of me that while I’m no longer held prisoner by my addiction, I am still trapped in so many ways.

Recovery is about so much more than just staying sober. As I recently told my therapist, it would appear I’m actually in recovery from life.