Control Issues

I have a tendency to worry about things that I have no control over. I want desperately to be in control of everything in my life, but of course that can and never will happen. I have been reading more about being an ‘Adult Child of Alcoholism’ and control issues are par for the course, it seems.

For instance, this morning my husband and I had a conversation about the future and whether or not he plans to resume drinking booze at some point. He thinks that he might want to drink moderately in the future. Someday in the future…maybe after a few more months of abstinence. A little background- my husband quit drinking to support me and hasn’t appeared to have much of a problem giving it up so far.

The thought of him drinking ‘someday’ practically gave me an anxiety attack. I began worrying about the ways that our lives would be different if he were to become a drinker again, how there would be alcohol in our house, how we would TOTALLY grow apart, how our son would be exposed to people drinking, and on and on until I was positive that we will 100% end up divorced if he has a few drinks.

So…maybe my worrying spiraled a little bit out of control? We are referring to something that has not even happened yet, and that might not EVER happen. What about crossing that bridge when we get to it? I am SO BAD at that. I go down this wormhole into the future, and it is negative and bad and exists only in my mind.

I can’t control my husband’s decisions on this subject, but I want to. Boy, do I ever want to. I want to tell him “No. We are not drinkers anymore. That is the way it is.” I don’t want to do this alone. The fact of the matter, however, is that we are always doing this alone. Living a sober life is a personal choice. I cannot control his decision, and in reality I don’t want to control his decision. I don’t respect people that I can boss around. My problem is not his problem. 

Maybe some of my worries will happen down the line, but they probably won’t. If problems arise we can handle them as they come up. I need to let go of control and let life happen…live and let live. I think AA uses the Serenity Prayer and the idea of ‘Let Go and Let God’ to help with control issues. I like those. Any other ideas? Or how do those ideas help you?

One More Time

“If this happens one more time, I am done. I am quitting.” I said that phrase two or three times during the months leading up to the day that I actually quit. I was referring to blacking out. Drinking to a place where I was out of my mind. Feeling so hungover the next day that I was practically worthless until at least noon. I am trying not to dwell too much on past mistakes that still have the power to make me feel like shit, but yuck, yuck and yuck.

Quitting drinking is super overwhelming because it is a huge and complicated task, to put it simply. It requires that you change your life. Not just your life, either, your brain. The way that you think about things. The way that you behave. Oh no big deal, I just changed EVERYTHING about myself. Everything that made me ME. Or at least it seems that way at first. In reality, however, the things that make me ME (or you YOU) are still there. And they get better and better the longer you stay sober.

Drinking was so tied in with my self-image that I believed that the deterioration of my life was actually pretty cool. I read Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski and saw myself in them in a romantic, twisted way. Yeah, I was fucked up, but it was also beautiful to be so damaged. To eschew society and embrace the dark side. To live life on the wrong side of the tracks. And you know what? I still see the beauty and feel that way sometimes, but I am wising up and letting go of those notions. It is not so romantic anymore…it seems unenlightened to live that way.

You have to find a way to believe that your life could be better if you were to quit, and that is fucking hard to do when you are in the midst of an addiction. I prayed, and I genuinely believe that praying helped give me the strength to make a change. It saved my life. And I am so scared of going back to that old lifestyle that I pray every single day without fail. I pray to the Universe to help me stay sober. Life is too damn precious to waste going down that path. I lived, learned, and am moving on with my life.

I have to say that not drinking is getting easier a lot of the time, but I still have huge moments of doubt that I can do this forever. I still feel like I stick out like a sore thumb in social situations. I still focus WAY too much on the future and what MIGHT happen. I still wonder if life is worth living without drinking (luckily that thought is pretty rare). Generally, though, I feel so much more hopeful about the future than I used to. Maybe since I was a child, even. I feel so much more capable. Life seems to be unfolding in a way that makes SENSE. Most of the time it is so much better than I would have imagined.

Love Yourself. The End.

It was a feeling more than anything. A premonition… knowledge deep inside my gut that something terrible would happen if I kept drinking. This is why I stopped. I wasn’t cajoled or forced or intervened upon. I was scared. I was hurting myself and I had to do something about it. That little voice was persistent but tiny, and so easily shoved into the back of my mind, that I didn’t hear it for a really long time.

As I am sober for more and more time I can feel my intuition growing stronger. That little voice inside my gut is leading me to better places than it used to. When you are listening to your gut’s little voice- your intuition, not your junkie voice- you are following your own positive path in life. This path will not generally steer you wrong because it is based upon self-love. I really enjoyed the latest post on the ‘Sober Identity’ blog here, which talked a lot about loving yourself. Check it out, yo.

The main thing that I took from her article was that it is impossible to drink AND love yourself if you are an alcoholic. So, for me, drinking does not equal self-love. Drinking will NEVER equal self-love because drinking is actually a form of self-harm. Thinking about that caused a big aha! moment for me. I can never, ever pamper myself, or relax with, a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey again. It is NOT relaxing or pampering because it is so, so bad for me. I can go for a run or meditate or cry or take a bath, but I cannot give myself booze and pretend that I am loving myself.

My little intuitive voice has always been there trying to lead me to good places, but I wasn’t very good at listening to it for a long time. Alcohol clogged it up, numbed it out, distracted it with hangovers, and did a number of other things to obscure it that I am only beginning to awaken to. I think it will only grow louder and more clear as my brain continues to heal from the years of abuse that I put it through. I feel excited to find out where that little voice will lead me from here.

Limiting Belief: I Don’t Deserve Nice Things

Dear Limiting Belief,

I am here to tell you that I do in fact deserve the nicer things in life. Just because I want to be surrounded by things and people that make me happy, that are lovely and quality and nice, does not make me selfish or greedy. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be comfortable. Not all the time, perhaps. But I deserve these things, just like everybody else deserves these things. We do not always get what we deserve, but we are all worthy of the very best that life has to offer.

For some reason when it comes to my own wants and needs I am perfectly content scraping the bottom of the barrel. I am uncomfortable being acknowledged. “No, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about me. I’m sorry for taking up so much space. I don’t need anything or anybody. Everything is okay!” This is my attitude a lot of the time. Where the hell did this attitude come from? When did I start believing that wanting normal material possessions or the people around me to acknowledge certain things about my life makes me greedy and selfish? It’s not like I want a private plane and a yacht. I want a comfortably furnished home that reflects my style, quality clothing that makes me feel good about myself, and a safe car. I want people to celebrate me when it is my birthday or when I do something that I worked hard to accomplish. I have wants and needs, dammit! So do you. We all do, and they are okay to acknowledge.

Am I so afraid of being disappointed that I don’t even try to have my needs and wants met anymore? That I put them down, and by doing so put myself down? Why? Making myself small does not serve me or anybody else. It takes away from the world, in fact.

For some reason it was perfectly fine to drink all the drinks and smoke all the smokes. To engage in unhealthy relationships that made me feel bad about myself. When it comes to hurting myself I can have as much as I want. This is crazy!!

So, limiting belief, I am not listening to you anymore. I am going to acknowledge my wants and needs. I deserve good things, nice things, wonderful things. I am not selfish and greedy because of this.

Do Whatever it Takes to Stop Drinking

I have been thinking about this expression and what it means to me. What do I have to do to stop drinking forever? What does ‘whatever it takes’ look like for me? What does it look like for you?

I am still figuring it out, but so far what I am doing seems to be working as far as keeping me off the booze in the short-term. But is it enough to sustain me comfortably in sobriety for years to come? Maybe, maybe not. It scares me that it is so easy to relapse and so difficult to tell if I am on the right path.

I think this is a big deal in recovery because you cannot just stop drinking and expect everything in your life to get better or change. I have been realizing that I need to slowly begin to work on building a new kind of life. A life that is not centered around alcohol in any way, shape or form. A life that is better, bigger, more beautiful and more whole. I need to let go of the past and who I used to be. This requires facing some fears and a whole lot of limiting beliefs that have been with me for a long time.

‘Whatever it takes’ is different for everyone. Some people need to go to AA meetings every day to stay sober, and that is 100% okay. Some people need to anonymously blog and tell nobody about their problem, and that’s okay too. Whatever works is whatever works is whatever works FOR YOU. Being honest with ourselves is so important, because only we know if we are doing enough at any given time.

Right now I believe I am doing enough. It is such a relief to know that there is more out there for me if I need it. AA- I’m talking to you. It seems that my daily routine of reading, reading, writing, talking, and reading some more is working. I mainly stay home. I hang out with my husband and son. I avoid social events that make me uncomfortable and talk to my drinking family on the phone less. I am setting boundaries that are difficult and uncomfortable but so, so necessary. That is okay because it is what I need to do to stay sober right now. It will change as I change. ‘Whatever it takes’ will look different as my sober time lengthens. It already looks different than it did on my first shaky day.

I need to challenge myself and get out of this comfort zone, though, if my sobriety is going to last forever. This much I am sure of.

So… what do you say? Let’s challenge ourselves to live bigger lives. To be our best selves. To worry less and pray more. To make goals and begin taking small steps to accomplish them. To do whatever it takes to be free.

We deserve all the good stuff that life has to offer.

I Am Now a Wallflower

At this point I am not sure that I will ever be able to have a “normal” social life again. I am jesting a bit, but damn! It’s hard! I went to my friend’s bachelorette party and wedding last week/weekend and it was sorta fun for like one second and then I left. It is hard to be around friends drinking, and I felt uncomfortable, so I used my husband and baby as an excuse. Bad mama! It was just too tempting to have just one drink while my husband was at home and everyone else was tipsy, and I was scared of making that mistake, so I extricated myself from those situations. I was really hoping that I would be able to hang and party sober for awhile, but it just didn’t happen. I hope it will get easier if I keep trying, or else I might have to become a hermit. Maybe I should go ahead and purchase a cabin in a remote area in the mountains now! At least then I can hermit it up in style.

I dunno, I am really more of a one-on-one person when it comes to socializing anyway. I think I started liking alcohol because it made me feel more comfortable in crowds when I was nothing more than a wee, timid teenager. Alcohol made me louder and more carefree, and without it I struggle to feel heard in large groups. Now that I am alcohol free I think I am back to being more of a one-on-one or small group person. That is okay, but it will require some adjustments in my expectations and plans for my social life. Baby steps.

On another note, I am feeling under the weather today. I might have the flu or something because I am achy and generally icky feeling. Therefore I am going to keep this blog post short, but I wanted to thank everyone who gave me encouragement and support about being social during the past few weeks. I WAY over thought things, which is pretty normal for me, but at least I made safe, smart choices in the end. I am looking to all of you to show me how to eventually spread my wings a bit further. I know it is possible! Keepin’ the faith, yes I am.

Plus, I am 67 days sober! The days are really starting to add up without nearly as much work on my part, which is pretty damn cool. 67 days seems like a lot to me, but I know it is a mere drop in the bucket.

Have a good day, everyone. I am going back to bed.

Sober Hair and a Little Prayer

Today is a good day. Writing about my plans for later in the week (in my last post) helped to relieve some stress, and I have been spending time thinking about how much more positive I feel compared to when I was drinking. Plus, you guys! I got a new haircut. A totally new look, and I love it! I feel like a different person. Or… that’s not right exactly… I feel more like myself with this haircut. Yes, that’s it. It suits me quite well, I love it, and I never would have had the balls to do it in the past. And really… who cares what anybody else thinks, anyway? It’s my head! In the past I would have worried about it more, I think.

But seriously, life is good.  I feel more like myself on so many levels, not just superficially because of my hair. I think quitting drinking has given me a renewed sense of self, and I am only now beginning to explore it. I know these happy feelings won’t last forever, but I sure am enjoying them while they last.

Some of these good feelings have to do with praying and meditating, I do believe. I read a quote yesterday that made a lot of sense.

“Whenever you feel inadequate, pray to be of service. When you’re in an energy of service your ego melts away.” -Gabrielle Bernstein*

I feel inadequate a lot, and praying to be of service changes my perspective. It doesn’t have to be a big service or anything, you don’t have to immediately go out and begin feeding the homeless, for example, but doing this gets me out of my own head and thinking about others in a different way. I am going to do this a few times today to stay balanced and centered before heading out to my friend’s bachelorette party this evening. Maybe I can enjoy my time at the party by listening to friends talk about themselves instead of thinking about me, me, me and drinking, drinking, drinking the whole time. We will see how it goes.

*Gabrielle Bernstein is the author of ‘Spirit Junkie’ and ‘May Cause Miracles.’ I just checked out ‘May Cause Miracles’ from the library, and am curious to see if I like it. I will write about it if it is helpful. She has been sober (mainly from a drug addiction, I believe) for 8 years.

Facing Social Anxiety (a little bit at a time)

I have a few social events to attend this week, and I am trying hard to keep my cool. I can be a laid back social girl who doesn’t drink, right? I used to use all social events as drinking occasions, so thinking about going out sober is a new experience for me. The anticipation of drinking was probably more fun than the actual drinking, now that I think about it. Events used to be exhausting because I would begin to plan my drinking really early… whether I could drink beforehand, how I could stay semi-sober depending on the crowd, worrying about how to get home, finding the after party, etc. That does not even include normal planning like deciding what to wear (which I still think about because that part is actually fun!)

In the past I almost always drank too much during social situations. I have read about other people with drinking problems who drank mainly at home and feel kind of jealous… why didn’t I think of that? It would have been just as damaging in many ways but much less embarrassing! Ah well. Since I was a public drunk I feel accountable to my friends who know that I am no longer drinking. No big secrets here! I have actually been worrying about oversharing in regards to my alcoholism and sobriety more than anything. Once I start talking about quitting I have a hard time shutting up, which seems to invite unwanted advice and general awkwardness. I would rather speak eloquently and elegantly, shut the hell up, and then exercise boundaries when given advice that I do not care to hear.

Anyway, I am looking forward to testing out my sobriety in public in a few safe situations. Well, semi-safe situations at least. I will have supportive people at both events (a bachelorette party and a wedding). The bachelorette party is a low-key spa night at a girlfriend’s house near my own home, and the wedding is an afternoon event that I will be attending with my husband and son. Thank you sweet baby for giving me an excellent excuse to leave the moment I feel weird or uncomfortable.

Here are a few reasons why being sober in social situations is preferable to drinking (for me, at least):

– Make-up looks nice the entire time, hair is in place. Eyes are clear instead of bloodshot.

– Able to drive myself home without danger or fear. Aside from normal danger that comes with driving, that is.

– Leave at a reasonable time. I used to stay til the last drop was finished and then head to the next party. This meant keeping my husband and son waiting for me a few times this past year, or staying up way too late. Nothing good.

– No drunk texting. I am the worst at that. Ugh.

– Enjoy the company of friends and meeting new people instead of simply enjoying the free booze.

– Won’t say or do anything that I will regret the next day.

– Can walk better in heels.

– More dignified and attractive behavior overall.

– I can talk to anybody, not just heavy drinkers. I used to mainly confine myself to groups that I felt comfortable boozing around.

I have been taking it slow when it comes to being social because I still feel pretty shaky, so I am excited and curious to see how things go this week. I am sure it will be hard at times, which is why I am planning ahead. Life goes on whether you are sober or not, right? Luckily it is also easy to sit things out, as sobriety is my main priority.

A Family Disease

I am dealing with the day-to-day minutiae that goes along with being sober as well as a wife, mama, daughter, sister, friend, etc. I wrote the other day, here, about laying awake at night thinking about my family and their problems. It was weird, but my Mom cemented some of those thoughts in my head yesterday evening during a phone call.

We spoke about our plans for the holidays. The dreaded holidays. Everyone’s favorite time of the year to tie one on and cry over their turkey dinner (at least at our family holidays during my later childhood years). Why would I not want to redo those fun times every year, right? I am being sarcastic, but the holidays really are a very hard time for a lot of people. There is so much pressure to have a Pinterest-worthy home, table and decor, loads of fun, togetherness, and bonding… and it just doesn’t work out that way for most people. I am not particularly religious, or into the holidays, and I still feel pressure to make something happen every year. Sometimes I wish I could just lie on a beach and forget all about them. Hmm… goal for next year, perhaps? “Sorry, I’ll be in Bali for the holidays this year.” A girl can dream.

Anyway, my Mom wants to come visit this year to see my son, her only grandson, whom she loves very much. I want them to have a relationship with one another. What I don’t want is for my son to be a part of a dysfunctional environment where unhealthy drinking is the normal thing to do, which it is in my family. This means that we can’t go stay with her. My Mom lives in a relatively small house with my two alcoholic, unemployed brothers. I really don’t want alcohol in my house right now, either. She told me that she doesn’t want to visit if she can’t drink, as she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night.

I am really sad about this. Sad that she would choose alcohol over visiting me and her grandson. Sad that she can’t/won’t stop drinking for a week to help me when I really need it.  Sad that she is obviously addicted to alcohol but in total denial about it. Sad that I can’t just say “It’s okay! Come anyway!” and make the problems go away because I am a total people pleaser. Some of these thoughts and feelings aren’t rational, because I know alcoholism is a tricky thing and it’s not personal, but my head and heart are still hurting.

I have realized that part of the reason I kept drinking for so long was that I didn’t know how to do things any differently. Quitting meant having to deal not only with my personal problems, but also with the alcohol problems of my family. “Alcoholism is a disease of the family” makes more sense to me now. I don’t want to make excuses for my drinking, and I understand that it is my responsibility to care for my sobriety. I just hate that I have to hurt my family… even if it helps them in the end. It is a painful thing to do. I know that my Mom doesn’t see herself the way that she is behaving right now, and it breaks my heart. I am so tired of having my heart broken by alcohol. It has happened far too many times over the years.

My plan is to create and keep boundaries for the holidays. Absolutely no drinking in my house. Visitors can stay elsewhere and drink the night away, but will respect my home, as it is my safe place. If we visit those with a drinking problem, we will stay in a hotel and the visits will be cut short once drinking begins. I don’t know how else to handle it, and I am not going to stress and lose my sobriety over other people’s problems.

How do you handle difficult family situations, if you have them? Is Al-Anon helpful? I am thinking I might go to a meeting and check it out.