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.

Mental Illness · Self-Care · Self-Talk

Talk it out

wellness2

Recently I was in a meeting for work and the topic of employee wellness came up.  We were asked to share the ways we partake in self-care. Everyone said similar things…run, take a bath, read…and then they came to me and I boldly announced that one of the ways I show self-care is by making time to attend therapy at least 1-2 times a month.

You could have heard a pin drop.

People quickly averted their eyes and it took an extra second before moving to the next person.  While I definitely believe there’s been an improvement in the acceptance of mental health issues over the past 20 years or so, we are nowhere near where we need to be.  There’s still a stigma attached and that makes me sad and angry.

Tonight I had therapy and it was a great session, which was very much needed. I didn’t make any huge realizations or figure out the meaning of life, but I word vomited all the things going on that have happened over the past week or so that have been making me crazy and upset and angry and have just completely thrown me off balance.

My therapist didn’t get to say much since I was speed talking my way through the session so I could mention everything but that’s okay. As I told her tonight, many times I just need her to listen because once I just say something, most of the time I feel at least a little bit better. So talked…and talked…and talked.  I told her about how last Thursday was just an overall shitty day but what made it worse was that I was blindsided at work and told I’ll be in a different position soon (one I wasn’t ready to move to yet). Then I had an argument with my estranged husband (I don’t even know if I am using estranged right and frankly I don’t care at the moment) Friday evening while decorating Easter eggs with our kids, then I said good-bye to my childhood home where my dad also passed away in on Saturday since it just sold and then a few days later there was more arguing with the husband-ish and financial woes and HOW THE FUCK AM I STILL SOBER?!?!

How am I still sober? One day at a time. 10 minutes at a time. By doing the next right thing. By breathing. By checking in with myself.

That is something new to me, this checking in with myself, and I find it very peculiar. I’m not really sure how it started but I just noticed that I’m doing it A LOT this tough week in particular. I am so grateful that my head is clear without alcohol so that I notice when my thoughts become unhealthy – negative and driven by anger or anxiety or shame – and I ask myself, “What are you feeling and why are you feeling this way?” I acknowledge whatever I’m feeling then figure out how to make it go away. Sometimes it’s simply taking a couple deep breaths. Sometimes it’s running through the tape of, “Here’s why that is completely irrational, now move on.” Sometimes it’s writing here. Sometimes it’s just praying to whatever God is above to please, please, please just help me hold on until this passes.

Whatever the cause, whatever the case, I’m doing it. Is this what they call managing your emotions in a healthy manner? Changing your thought patterns? I’m only being half-facetious because I really don’t know. The thing is, I think most people in recovery look to replace their unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones but the truth is, I never learned healthy ones to begin with and that’s an entirely different blog post on its own. I’m learning them now.

So here I am. Sober. Breathing. Writing. Going to therapy. Reading books written by people in similar situations. Trying to navigate life in a new way, a way in which I’m in recovery not just from addiction but from everything that’s ever happened that has broken me.

alcohol · Mental Illness

What is normal?

normal

I just finished reading Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska and the quote above is from her book.

Wow. I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in.

I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow with another emotional hangover (like I did when I watched 13 Reasons Whyafter reading this book and this quote in particular. I’m still early in my recovery at just 121 days and when I read these things or hear stories that I connect with, my breath always catches. I’m not alone. These feelings aren’t unique to me. Then there’s relief because…well, I’m not alone.

My entire life I’ve felt abnormal…not right…like an outsider. I started putting on weight in third grade which never really stopped until I topped out at 285 pounds at 24 years old. Years of angry tears and cursing God and asking WHY CAN’T I JUST BE NORMAL?!

My senior year of high school (and let’s be honest, probably even earlier) was spent sliding down the slippery slope of depression. My first heartbreak in college and realizing I had to figure out my life, and fast, during 4 years of college sent me spinning. In and out of therapy, lots of prescriptions that I filled but never took because WHY CAN’T I JUST BE NORMAL?!?!

As I left college and continued to binge drink and began my career and continued trying to figure out who I was and why my destiny included me being morbidly obese, depression and anxiety kept creeping in. So I had gastric bypass and lost 135 pounds but it turns out, being thin doesn’t necessarily make you feel normal either.

I got married and bought a house with my husband and planned on starting a family.  Because this is what normal people do. And I wanted so badly to just be normal.

I had two babies and earned my master’s degree while tending to infants and toddlers and working full-time. The only thing that felt normal at this point was my anxiety. So I started taking the pills that they said would help me and finally, finally, finally after several different tries, found something that gave me some relief. But now…now I was one of those people who has to take a pill to feel normal. Whatever normal is.

I started drinking more as the kids got a bit older and totally bought into the mommy-drinking culture. I DESERVED those 3 glasses of wine. I’m a mom. I’m a normal mom.

My marriage, like many marriages, began to bend under the weight of time and children and a mortgage and jobs and bills and in-laws and life. It wasn’t fun anymore. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t normal in my mind.  And all I wanted was normal.

Then my dad died somewhat unexpectedly. I was 31. So I pretty much pretended it didn’t happen. Avoided grieving in a healthy way. Avoided dealing with what I witnessed and experienced in his final months. I drank. And drank and drank and drank. Then drank some more. Suddenly I felt normal.

I felt nothing. This must be normal, I thought. Then I gave up on my marriage. Normal, marriage is hard and marriage with kids is harder and so I’m legally married but I’d given up inside, that’s normal. No one’s actually happily married, I thought.

Then I got a DUI. Normal, almost everyone gets one at some point, right? Blacking out is totally normal too.  It’s not like I do it all the time. Ok, it’s not like I do it every day. Only on the weekends or special occasions like bridal showers and weddings and summer cook outs and holidays. Maybe once or twice during the week. I told myself this was all normal. I told myself I felt normal. Finally. I BELONGED. I was one of the normal ones.

Now and then this deviant thought would try to make it’s way into my brain. “You’re still not normal.  This is not normal.” So I would drink to quiet it. “You’re still sad.  You’re still lost. You’re still not normal and this is not normal drinking.” Drink more and more and more to make it stop. I didn’t want to own it.

I kept drinking and fucking up left and right but eventually I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, even if I could keep lying to my family and friends. (Not that they believed me, but they pretended at least.) I couldn’t deny that my drinking was anything but normal.  So I continued to embarrass myself, disgrace myself and destroy my relationships because it might not be normal but it sure as hell beat having to feel things and face the fact that I’m just not normal. Until it didn’t.

Then I stopped. And of course there’s so much more to it then simply, “I stopped,” but for now, just know, I stopped. I woke up and I heard again, “You’re not normal” and this time I had to choose to listen instead of try to silence the voice in my head with alcohol. And so I know now that I’m not normal.  I can’t say I’ve accepted it yet, but I know it.

I put weight back on after 10 years and two kids. I’m not 285 pounds but I’m not 175 either. I still take a pill daily to lighten the anxiety that courses through my veins and invades my thoughts. I can’t drink anymore. I’m anything but normal. Or am I?

drunkmom

Holidays

Easter on Day 119

Easter

I don’t remember last Easter. I was drunk. My husband took care of filling baskets with sweet treats, hiding plastic coin-filled eggs and hard boiled ones had been decorated by little hands while he oversaw them.  Because I was drunk. Or on my way to being drunk. Last Easter I was still in active addiction and while I may have been physically present, whimsically snapping photos of the decorating festivities while carrying around a wine glass too full with my second or third serving, I wasn’t really there. By that time I knew I had a problem. Well, depending on the day. Some days I toyed with the idea that I just may have a problem while others I assured myself that I certainly did NOT have a problem. I’m a mother with a professional job and a home and a marriage and I volunteer for the PTO and addicts don’t do that! Or do they?

So I don’t remember much of last Easter other than I wasn’t present. I still had that empty feeling. My eyes were always filled with…nothing. Besides the pain I definitely did not want to acknowledge let alone address, I hated holidays and I wanted nothing more than to be numb and stop remembering everything.

This Easter, at 119 days sober, was so much different. So much more beautiful and fulfilling. I’m still fighting the urge to be numb and forget and for whatever reason, (probably that the week leading up to this weekend has just been a shitty one), I’ve really wanted to drink this weekend. But I DIDN’T.

I told my husband-ish (long story to come at some point!) that I’d really like to take care of Easter this year because I just didn’t last year. And so I did. On Friday evening I helped the kids as they decorated eggs and I was actually present. Last night after we put the kids to bed, he brought all the goodies out from their hiding spots and I carefully filled baskets, rearranging items a few times to make sure they were perfect.  I filled 48 plastic eggs with candy and coins. I hid plastic and decorated eggs all around the house.  The entire time I did this, I thought of the gift of my sobriety and how grateful I was to be so fully present, aware and in control of how Easter would turn out for my babies. I even noticed at one point my husband-ish, their father, watching me as I worked and how relaxed he seemed. No worrying for him tonight that Easter wouldn’t be taken care of, that I would pick a fight that would turn ugly and wake the kids or that I might not wake up in the morning with our children.

I awoke with a clear head at 6:30 am to two bright-eyed, eager children who had already peeked downstairs and wanted me to know that the Easter Bunny did indeed visit and could we please, please, please go downstairs NOW! Instead of being hungover and irritable, I got right out of bed and followed them to their baskets and I didn’t have to fake my excitement for them. I snapped pictures and took videos of them on their egg hunt to send to their father who was working an early shift.  When they were a bit more settled and had found all of the eggs and shown me all of the treasures from their baskets, I made cinnamon rolls as a special Easter breakfast with a side of strong coffee for myself. I sipped the hot elixir and watched as they cracked open plastic eggs and fawned over pennies and dimes and chocolates galore while they discussed how well the Easter Bunny had hidden their eggs this year.

I did it. I survived a holiday sober and I enjoyed it. And I will remember it. My kids, at 5 and 7 years old, may not remember this particular Easter, but I will. I know Easter gives hope to so many who celebrate it for religious reasons but this Easter gave me hope in a way I never expected or thought was possible.

I am SO GRATEFUL for my recovery. It has not been easy and there is a long way to go, but DAMNIT I MADE IT TO DAY 119! I made it to an Easter I will remember.

Uncategorized

Looking for Peace

peace

I’m fucking exhausted. Mostly of myself. I cannot get my mind to shut off and I’m just so over it.

So I’m sitting here in my dad’s chair (which is now my chair) with my chai tea listening to my kids play a video game with my estranged husband (oh there’s a story I still need to tell about that one!) and trying to figure out how I dump out everything in my brain so it will just be quiet.

I was thinking today about how my head is always hyper focused on shit and I just can’t shut it off.  Sometimes it’s work…sometimes it’s marriage….sometimes it’s alcohol….sometimes it’s recovery…but it’s always something and right now I just want to tell my brain to shut the fuck up.

It’s a difficult part of recovery for me – having to feel and face everything with a clear head. Before if there was something I wanted to avoid (and there was plenty) I could just drink it away.

The part I miss most and has been on my mind a lot is that first hour or so. When the effects just start to hit, my muscles relax, the tension leaves my body, I feel a little lightheaded but giggly.  I smile easily then and my mind clears. That overall fuzziness that blurred reality in just the slightest way and made me feel like everything was okay.  I miss that feeling…

Ahhhh…if only the tape stopped playing there. But it doesn’t.  That hour of rose-colored warm and fuzzies doesn’t last very long and turns into a black out complete with boat loads of shame and guilt without much memory of why other than being told by others how I embarrassed myself yet again and ruined even more relationships.  I sure as fuck don’t miss those feelings…

I need some peace.  I need some quiet time in my own head. I’ve attempted meditation and I think it could be beneficial if I gave it more time and practice but that’s damn near impossible with two little kids. There’s always noise – if not in my head then outside of it.

I write to try to quiet the chaos but even that has it’s limitations. New to this public blog thing, I don’t know what’s too much to share, what’s not enough. Early in m recovery at 118 days I question if I can handle the judgment that would come with just word vomiting my entire story in a single shot…because it’s ugly.

So here I am with a mind that never shuts off, a life that never slows down and a soul that is begging for a break.  I just need a break.

Self-Care

Connections

connection

I recently read an article from Psychology Today about how “the opposite of addiction is connection.”  It made so much sense to me, I even brought it up in one of my recent therapy sessions. Then I kind of forgot about it. Until a couple days ago when someone in a sobriety Facebook group I’m a part of quoted the article. I felt it again – that pull in my soul telling me to be quiet and LISTEN. So clearly I forgot about it again. Ugh. But then today….today the universe said, “FOR FUCK’S SAKE WOMAN, LISTEN!” and so I did.

The past couple days have been uncomfortable for me. I have felt so uneasy and unsure. Earlier in my sobriety (the first 90 days or so I’d say), I felt so aware of everything I was now doing sober.  There I go to work not hungover…make dinner without my obligatory glass (or 5) of wine…shower without a beer waiting for me on the sink…go to bed when the kids do instead of staying up to drink some more…breathe in, breathe out, don’t drink, repeat. The last 25 days or so I am still aware but not so hyper-vigilant of the  daily tasks I now complete with a clear head. I’m figuring out a new “normal.” I’m not quite there yet, but my routines have definitely changed.  This week however, I’ve felt like I’m back in the very early days, always on guard.

These past few days have been challenging. I have felt like I’m just waiting for the bottom to drop out from under me. I’ve been super sensitive to everyone and everything and kept isolating myself, just waiting…then I thought, “WAIT! What if the bottom has already dropped out? What if those awful 2.5 years I spent blacked out or living a chaotic, stressful existence WAS the bottom dropping out?” Holy shit. I survived that. I fucking survived that.

Then I happened to have 3 amazing conversations today.

This morning I reconnected with an old friend who I happen to also work with but never see. I asked, “How are you?” and she basically called me out and said, “I don’t even bother asking that question anymore. People don’t really want to know how I am and they don’t want to tell me how they really are.” SO. TRUE. We ended up having this great conversation then about how people just give bullshit answers and how we both really want to know how people are – the good and the bad.  How are you REALLY? Don’t lie or try to cover it up. If you’re going through a really shitty time – own it and tell me about it. Let me help or just listen at the very least. I don’t want people to feel like they have to put on a facade around me and I sure as hell am tired of pretending like everything’s just dandy in my own life. It was so freeing to be able to honestly say to her – my life kinda sucks right now. It’s better than it was, but guess what, I’m sober because I had a problem and now I’m trying to figure life out sober and that’s new and confusing and there’s a lot of feelings that come with that that I’m not sure about just yet.

After work I went for a massage I had scheduled awhile back. New to me and owned by a local lady. I walked in and I just knew in my gut this was going to be a good experience. There was nothing special about the place – just a feeling. When my appointment began, the massage therapist went over the required health questionnaire I had completed and she asked me about some of the health problems I had noted which led to me word vomiting some of my medical issues.  She must have felt comfortable because she then went “off the record” and started telling me some of her story.  We ended up talking for the entire massage. We share many of the same beliefs and I opened up about being in recovery and she was super supportive and we talked mental illness and self-help books and life philosophies AND I got an amazing massage during it all. Throughout our discussion (before I mentioned my sobriety) she said a couple things that resonated so deeply with me about accepting and owning your past and living in the present which I’ve found so challenging lately. I felt like it was no accident that I was on this particular massage table at this particular time.

Finally, I ended my day with a discussion with a friend (who doesn’t know I’m sober) about our kids, men, crapping our pants and getting older. Light conversation with lots of laughs but I so desperately needed that even though I didn’t realize I needed it until it was already happening.

All 3 conversations were no accident today. I needed them. The universe knew that. They were reminders that these connections are so much stronger than my addiction. That I’m better when I’m not alone.

I’m. Not. Alone.

There are others out there who are also facing their own demons, addiction or otherwise, and others who think I’m worth knowing and loving even though I’m facing mine. I need to know that. I need to know that I’m not the only one who has FUCKED UP and that my mistakes don’t define me. THEY DO NOT DEFINE ME AND YOURS DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

do believe that connection is truly the opposite of addiction.