Shifting the Old ‘Tude

I have been thinking a lot about drinking lately. Not all of the time, but enough that I want to explore it a little bit here. It feels like my initial motivation has flagged somewhat and I am stuck in an uncomfortable place of wanting to drink yet not wanting to drink. I feel whiny, blah, and basically tired of making the effort to quit drinking. I have been experiencing the Fear of Missing Out when I know that my friends are out doing stuff that involves alcohol. I have been questioning my seriousness about sobriety.

Once I write down my thoughts they seem silly, but they are persistent little suckers.

I guess I am struggling with the amount of work and effort it takes to recreate my life from scratch in so many ways. Drinking used to be an effective, if not good or particularly healthy, time filler. It was my hobby. It kept me company. It took away bad feelings that I didn’t want to deal with. Even when I wanted to do other things I ended up spending my time drinking, so I never had to think very much. I would be faded enough that I could believe my own lies about what I would accomplish on some distant tomorrow.

Now I have to think about things more. I have to talk to people socially without having a buzz. I can’t pretend that certain things in my life are okay because I have on blinders from alcohol. I have to make things fun on their own merit, not just because I am experiencing a chemical “high” from drinking. Hard ‘effin work, I tell you.

So what am I going to do about these ambivalent feelings, blog? Make a list! Raise your hand if you love lists, too. Here are some ideas for the next few days to keep my sobriety going strong.

– Read a sober memoir. I checked out Augusten Burroughs’ ‘Dry’ from the library and am going to start it. And probably finish it. I am a speedy reader.

– Write down three things that I am grateful for each day this week.

– Spend 20 to 30 minutes praying and meditating every day. No excuses for this one because it helps me so much.

– Work on goals for the future that I want to accomplish in the short and long term. Write them down. Maybe write them down in a new journal because blank pages, and pretty new journals, make me happy.

– Get some damn exercise, sister.

– Practice loving kindness towards myself. I beat myself up SO much sometimes and it really isn’t helpful in the quest for a sober life. Perfection is a myth and I am enough just the way I am. Hey, hey. That can be my mantra for the days ahead.

Wow, I already feel more positive and hopeful just thinking about doing these things.

Bye, Bye Witching Hour… You Will Not Be Missed

I think it is time to focus on some good stuff. The past few weeks have been hard, but they are over, over, and over. Living in the present means embracing the happiness along with the sad, the good with the bad, etc. I made it through some shit times without drinking, and tried to take the time to appreciate some of the good parts of each and every day. And yesterday I noticed a totally freakin’ awesome thing- I no longer have been experiencing awful cravings every day between 4:30 and 7:30pm. Alright, sobriety! Is my witching hour diminishing or going away altogether? That is definitely something to be grateful for.

I still experience cravings during the witching hour on occasion, but they used to be seriously fierce EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT FAIL (even when I was drinking on the reg). I was told that it would get better, that eventually the witching hour would no longer exist in the same way, but it was really hard to believe. It is such a nice thing to experience those predictions coming true. Maybe, just maybe, that means I can trust people who have been there and done that. That is kind of a joke, but seriously! It is hard to trust others in regards to living sober because it is hard to know if your experience is the same. I mean, maybe I am the drunkest of the drunks and will ALWAYS feel like shit being sober. It is a thought process that makes no sense, but I don’t always think or behave in ways that make a lot of sense. Hello, alcoholic thinking! You’ve been identified!

In actuality, the commonalities amongst us sober folks are amazing. I am 38 days sober today, and that is not a very long time to wait to begin to experience fewer cravings during the witching hour. I didn’t notice that they were gone for awhile either… they just sorta magically went away.

And that, my friends, is a totally bitchin’ reason to feel good today.

Difficult Times

We got home from our trip last night, and it feels good to be back. Good and sad really, as my father-in-law passed away while we were in California visiting. I am not going to lie- it was really, really hard in so many ways, but especially handling the grief that surrounded me. I was/am sad, as my father-in-law was a wonderful, accomplished, loving man, but I ended up feeling really stressed out by the experience. I am still getting to know my husband’s family in a lot of ways. Most of our relationship has taken place many miles from both of our families, and we got pregnant/bought a house/got married in that order, all in a short amount of time.  I think I am still processing how I handled being there for my husband and his family, what I wish I had done differently, and what I will try to do in difficult future situations. Oh, life. You can be so tricky to navigate sometimes.

We had a long day of travel yesterday getting back home (two plane rides and two long car rides), and I made the decision that I was going to stop to buy beer and cigarettes on the way home. I decided this after our car acted like it wasn’t going to start in the long-term parking lot prior to our two-hour car ride home. Not that this was the worst or hardest part of the week, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I didn’t have a hard time staying away from alcohol during the trip, but the craving REALLY hit me hard in that hot parking lot, with the anxiety and tears building up inside. My brother-in-law magically started the car and we headed home, and I told my husband and brother-in-law that I was going to have a beer later. I felt desperate, like I NEEDED something to take the edge off. I told myself it would be just this one time. I would get drunk, smoke as many cigarettes as I wanted, and start over being sober again the following day. Everyone slips, right? Oh, the twisted thought process that went through my head during this time.

Well, I didn’t do it. I knew that I would feel awful in a myriad of ways if I were to say yes to my HORRIBLE junkie voice. Once we got going in the car and the baby fell asleep in his car seat, I closed my eyes and prayed for help to keep me from drinking and to help me feel NORMAL again. If not normal, then at least as strong as I felt before. So… yes, I pray sometimes. I am not really very religious, but prayer seems to help me when I am feeling really bad. I first noticed the positive effects in college and have done it regularly since then. I guess my prayers worked this time because the need that I was feeling, the desperate, empty, unexplainable hole, seemed to diminish. It closed enough that I was able to tell myself that I would drink another day. Tomorrow, next week, some other time, but not that night. I still felt really shaky about my sobriety- I was holding on by a thread- but I held onto that thread with all the power I could muster. I went home and ordered pizza, even got grouchy with my poor, sweet husband, but went to bed sober.

I am still feeling mentally and physically exhausted from everything that I’ve been through recently, so I plan to exercise some serious self-care over the next few days. I am going to relax around the house in comfy clothes, eat ice cream, watch movies, write here and in my journal, read something good, call friends and family that I have been neglecting, play with my sweet baby, and go for walks. I need to get back to feeling safe. Difficult times without a crutch are just that- difficult. I am a master of escaping from my emotions, and I can’t do that anymore. I think that for me, a true introverted soul, routine and safety are so important. I need to work on a plan for difficult times when I do not have my routine, my home, my familiar surroundings. I read a lot of blogs while I was gone but didn’t have the energy to write… maybe that would have helped.

Anyway, it is good to be back. Thank you for stopping by.

Stress is No Excuse For Actin’ Dumb


My husband’s family, and therefore my family, our family (I’m still getting used to being married, can you tell?), is facing a big loss. We are traveling tomorrow to visit for what will, in all likelihood, be the last time we get to see this important person. In the midst of us rushing around, trying to make travel plans, and otherwise readying ourselves for the trip, my husband was rear-ended by an uninsured motorist. Our old truck is probably toast and we will have to sue to get any money for it. My husband is not seriously injured, so we are beyond grateful for that. But really… hey universe… what’s up with today?

Anyway, let’s get positive up on this blog instead of dwelling in the mire. One wonderful thing about today is that I have not had the desire to drink at all, really. I know that it would not make anything better. Today would still suck. Because today just sucks. Period.

Being drunk would only make it harder. I would be hungover in the morning when we have to get up ridiculously early to drive to the airport. I might cry and feel sorry for myself instead of doing proactive things that are good for me like drinking tea and taking a hot bath. I wouldn’t want to go. I would not be acting like the mature adult that I am, a grown ass woman, if you will. Grown ass women face their problems head on instead of hiding from them.

I am not sure if I will be able to write much for the next few days, blog. But I will be back. I have made it 25 days and I am not quitting quitting without a fight. Even when life hands you shit instead of lemonade (pardon my language).

*Insert Curse Words Here*

Last night was hard. It totally sucked. I wanted to drink sooo bad I could practically taste it. So I just wanted to tell you that, blog. And I want to tell my junkie voice to go ahead and fuck off, please.

My husband, son and I went to a little block party in our town square last night. There was live music, lots of kids, and many of our friends. It was fun! But my friends were either drinking (a little) or planning to go elsewhere to drink later and listen to more live music. This weekend a small music festival takes place at various bars/restaurants/venues around town. I was JEALOUS. I wanted to go and have fun, too. I felt left out and sad that I could no longer partake in those activities. Everyone seemed excited and adventurous and happy, except dull old Jen. My shy teenage self came out of hiding and remembered spending time alone at home while others were out having fun together. Totally irrational! Yet it totally happened.

Going to a bar right now would be a recipe for disaster. I need more time and space between my drinking and the places where I used to drink. I need more sober friends. I need new activities for the weekend. I need to focus on what is important- my sobriety, my family, etc.

Whew. I am glad I escaped. I didn’t realize how left out I would feel. It seemed like a totally harmless place to go hang out for awhile, but my junkie voice threw a damn fit. Well, fuck you junkie voice. You suck and I don’t want you around anymore. GO AWAY and leave me in peace.

How come it seems like everyone in the world drinks alcohol sometimes?

I feel good today. I am happy to be awake and ready to spend my Saturday being productive WITHOUT a hangover. My friends are probably suffering a bit right now (not that I want that for them, but I’m glad it’s not me). I did the right thing by coming home, putting my baby to bed, eating burritos with my husband, and watching bad TV until we went to bed early. It turned out to be nice. No crazy adventure… but real and genuine and good.

My Body and Mind Are Not on the Same Page

I woke up feeling sick today. Dizzy and slightly nauseous- totally reminiscent of a hangover. I am not sure what the deal is, but I am SO glad that it has nothing to do with drinking. My back has also been killing me all week. My body is not happy with me apparently, even though I feel like I’ve been being pretty darn healthy. The joys of aging, perhaps?

It might be trite and annoying, but these health-related problems have got me thinking about how lucky we are when our health is good. Acting careless with our bodies for years on end is a really easy way to end up with bad health. I always used the reasoning that a glass of wine a day is GOOD for your health. Yeah, that may be so, but buckets of wine, beer, and anything else is definitely NOT good for your health. In fact, it causes all sorts of health-related concerns.

It just goes to show how easy it is to take good health for granted, and to minimize the problems that alcohol can cause in our lives. It is so easy to put the fact that alcohol hurts our health out of our minds. To even think that we are actually HELPING things in some way by drinking wine! Yeah right, addictive voice, yeah right.

When my back stops hurting and I feel less dizzy and nauseous, I am going to start exercising more. Hello, yoga! And maybe running. I am being inspired by all of the sober bloggers who run- you guys are pretty awesome. Prevention is the best medicine, and now I am living a lifestyle where exercise fits in nicely. Before it almost seemed hypocritical to even try.

In other news, my mind is feeling great today. Very peaceful and almost (gasp!) happy feeling. The pull of drinking is lessening slightly. It is still there, and I know I need to watch out for those killer urges that come out of nowhere, but it is getting a bit easier. I am starting to register more pleasure from day-to-day stuff such as a delicious bite of food, a long walk, or a kiss from my husband. Even reading something nice gives me warm, fuzzy feelings in my brain area. Thank you sober bloggers, I enjoy reading all of your things. They make me feel pretty good.

So today I am grateful for my (mainly) good health and my brain starting to return to its normal, non-addicted state.

Everything is Okay

I am still going strong on this whole sobriety thing- today is Day 20! I am 1/5 of the way done with the 100 Day Sober Challenge! I am planning on never drinking again, but the challenge gives me a reachable goal to work towards. I like that.

I have been experiencing a lot of ups and downs in the past few days. Life feels really hard and boring sometimes, and I am not sure that I will ever have fun again. But then I see a small glimpse of the life that I could have if I remain sober, and it looks and feels really beautiful. I hope that the glimpses become longer and more frequent as I gain more sober time under my belt. I also remember that I wasn’t having very much fun drinking, anyway, at least towards the end. I think part of the problem is that I lost contact with real, authentic, lough-out-loud fun while I was drinking heavily, and I have to relearn it. It ain’t easy and it will take time, so I must be patient. Ergh. Patience has never been my strong suit.

I guess the thing that I am most worried about is that I will crave alcohol forever. I don’t want to feel deprived for the rest of my life. People who have been sober for over a year say that the cravings diminish somewhat over time, and I really, really hope that is true. At 5pm every day I have an annoying internal struggle. That is the time that I seriously doubt I can do this forever. It would be super great if that stopped eventually.

Why is change so damn hard? Even though I know in my heart that I will appreciate what I am doing for myself in the future, it is still SO HARD SOMETIMES. I have faith that someday I will look back and thank myself for making my self-esteem, health, sanity, spirituality and family a priority. For making my LIFE a priority.

So, in the meantime I am trying to take everything slow, slow, slow. No big decisions, even though I want to CHANGE EVERYTHING! I want to have another baby, move to a bigger city, buy a bunch of stuff, cut my hair, go back to school, and on and on. While many of these things are positive, and could be a good idea in the future, I think that right now they are a DISTRACTION from the boredom of becoming sober. I always jump into things head first, but something is telling me to slow down here. To focus on becoming comfortable in my own skin before I take on new challenges. Not to find another way to avoid feeling my feelings, the same way I did when I was drinking.

For the most part, though, sober life is peaceful. It is a more thoughtful existence. I have no shame or guilt ruining my days and filling them with anxiety. I am even starting to feel a little joy seep into my chest sometimes, as long as I remember that everything is okay, and that I must go through the hard stuff to eventually get where I want to be.

A Tiny Spark

I was reading a book about sobriety, (Sober For Good by Anne Fletcher), and something in it made a lot of sense to me. One of the “masters” in the book (masters are people who have been sober for 5+ years) said that he realized that his drinking was out of control when he resumed drinking after a three month stint of sobriety. Only after this period of abstinence did he have the perspective needed to realize that something was wrong with the way he was drinking, and that he needed to kick alcohol to the curb permanently.

Huh. Kind of like the eight month period I spent being abstinent while I was pregnant last year, perhaps?

It’s not so much that my drinking was more out of control than it usually was when I started again, it was that I was better able to see it clearly this time around. I had never been abstinent for more than a few weeks in the past, and I had always found ways to minimize, rationalize, and compartmentalize my drinking behaviors. I wasn’t being honest with myself. Denial about alcoholism runs deep, so it is not a huge surprise that I needed a paradigm shift to make a change. I was no longer able to tell myself that my drinking behavior was congruent with my values… the truth had been exposed while I was living a sober life while pregnant.

Being a mother is another huge motivator for me to quit, but that is a story for a different day.

My advice to people worried about having a drinking problem would be to take a break from drinking.** What harm could it possibly do? One, three, or six months could help you to gain the perspective needed to see if you really have a problem. If you quit drinking with the intention of investigating how it feels to live life sober versus drunk, you could learn a lot about yourself. But many people have to hit a bottom of sorts, I guess, to be motivated to change. I certainly liked drinking way too much to try out quitting with no good reason, and needed to hit bottom. Even though there have always been a zillion reasons for me to quit.

Wow, though. I am amazed. Sober revelations rule! I never would have thought about this while drinking.

Day 18!


**Not that I’m qualified to give anyone advice. I am soooo brand new to all of this. I have a lot more time to think now, that’s for sure!

Pay Attention!

I need to remind myself to pay attention to the small details. I was pretty close to drinking a tiny amount off alcohol yesterday evening, and I am sooo glad I didn’t. I do not want to be sliding down any slippery slopes ANYTIME in the near future. The situation reaffirmed my commitment to sobriety. It also made me think about a few things.

When is it okay to have a small amount of alcohol? In mouthwash? In a recipe? In vanilla extract while baking? Never? I wasn’t totally sure. I’m weirdly glad that I was forced to think about and reflect on the subject so I know what to do in the future. Now I have a plan. I’m ready for you, sneaky alcohol.

So… what brought on this freight train of thoughts?

Well. I recently heard a friend talking about having a bitters and soda drink, and it sounded nice. The perfect foil for the hot summer days we have been having lately. I told my husband that it sounded like a refreshing non-alcoholic drink and he agreed, so we drove to the store to buy bitters and club soda. The liquor store. I guess I should have thought twice about going there in the first place, huh? It was the only place I knew that sold the stuff. After purchasing the bitters we read the label and realized that bitters has a huge percentage of alcohol. 43% to be exact. Wow, who knew? Not me!

A bitters and soda only needs a few drops of bitters, but I couldn’t do it. It just felt wrong. I immediately got online and posted a question about it in the Women For Sobriety forums. I got five or six answers right away, which really helped me make my decision and stick to it. So…if any of you from WFS are reading this… thanks ladies! I felt supported, and I needed that. I also e-mailed Belle my daily sober e-mail and asked her advice (I am a member of the 100 Days Sober Challenge- which totally rules). She replied today in her usual helpful and thoughtful manner.

Most of the advice I received said it is best to avoid anything with alcohol in it. Recipes, mouthwash, flavorings, and so on. I knew that was the right answer in my gut, but also had a little voice in my head saying, “what’s the harm? It’s only a few drops…” Listening to that little voice could be a recipe for disaster. My husband didn’t see what the big deal was either, but he came around after I explained to him that drinking ANY amount of alcohol could be a very real threat to my sobriety.

The bitters is currently hidden in our basement in a unknown (to me) location, and we are going to give it a way to a friend.

Whew. Crisis averted.