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.

Advertisements

You Have Wings

rumi1

Today is Day 59 for me. I am excited to hit 60 tomorrow and be almost 2/3 of the way finished with my 100 Day Challenge. Happy Sunday!

**edited because I am horrible at basic arithmetic, apparently. Ha!

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.

All Grown Up

I have found that I am a much more responsible person when I am not drinking. I have been taking care of IMPORTANT ADULT THINGS that I had been putting off for… let’s not even go there. These things would cross my mind every once in awhile but somehow I would never find the time, energy, or brainspace to deal with them. In the past few weeks I have:

– made an appointment to have a will made.

– made an appointment to get life insurance.

– called a few people that I have been neglecting to call (a couple of old friends, my mother-in-law).

– checked my credit report.

– opened a joint bank account with my husband.

– began the process of getting health insurance for myself through our new government programs (neat!).

It is amazing how things can slip through the cracks when your time is being devoted to drinking/being hungover/thinking about drinking/feel guilty about drinking/etc. Life seems much more hazy and unreal than it does when you are sober. I have a lot more time now, so why not take care of some things? I feel better knowing that they are done, which helps to strengthen my sobriety.

This does not mean that I am doing everything 100% responsibly, however. I have noticed that I can be kind of irresponsible with money when I am feeling depressed, which is something I need to be careful about. I am also secretive about money, just like I was about drinking. How bizarre! Yet, I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon. Alcoholics seem to transfer their problems from one thing to another.  Getting into debt or losing my husband’s trust regarding money would be hurtful to my sobriety, so I am going to do some things to combat this side of myself. One, I am going to try to be totally open and honest with him about money, even when I think I spent too much or did something wrong. Two, I am going to continue working on releasing stress in other ways. It makes me feel much better to have a plan in place.

Happy Thursday!

Loving Kindness

lovingkindness_color1

Today my goal is to start a practice of loving kindness. I think many alcoholics/addicts can be hard on themselves; I know that I beat myself up sometimes for not doing enough/doing too much/being altogether unworthy/etc. Loving kindness means that you are giving yourself the gift of unconditional positive regard. You are viewing yourself from a detached point of view, and treating yourself like the perfect grandmother-figure would treat you in a perfect world (that’s my perspective of it, at least). You can also extend these feelings and thoughts to others, or the whole world, the entire universe, on and on.

Here is a loving kindness meditation if you are interested in doing it, too! There are many versions of this meditation, but I like this one for right now. Simply sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breath for a few moments. Repeat the following phrases as many times as you want. I will have to read them out loud until I can memorize them. No pressure, though. The goal is to create more happiness and peace in your life, not to create stress.

May I be happy, well, and at peace.
May I be open to things just as they are.
May I experience the world opening to me just as I am.
May I welcome whatever arises.

 

Some Thoughts From Day 54

I feel happy today. Fulfilled. Rested. Organized. It’s really nice. I will take these pink clouds any day of the week, that is for sure. I am 54 days sober today and things are feeling a bit easier. Just a smidge. I humbly take it.

On another note, isn’t is weird how negativity can breed more negativity? Does that happen to you, too? The past few days I was taking care of my sick kiddo, which I wrote about in my last post here. At the same time I had trouble sleeping, even though I was exhausted, because I was thinking about how screwed up my family-of-origin is. WTF? Why were those thoughts coming to me while I had other, more important things to deal with?

I’m not exactly sure why that happens. Any theories? My theory is that negative thoughts get in the cracks of your psyche when you are tired, or stressed, or scared about something else. AA’s idea of HALT comes to mind. (Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired). But sometimes it is really hard to avoid feeling tired or stressed or scared because…that’s life. So you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with feeling shitty feelings and thinking about difficult stuff. At least that’s what I had to do. And you know what? It turned out okay, at least for now.

So, back to the realizations I had about my family-of-origin while staring at the ceiling instead of snoozing. My family was a mess while I was growing up, and they still are in many ways. I always knew this on some level, but I never really wanted to admit it. Alcoholism is rampant amongst us. We lied, enabled, covered up, and worked together to further addictive behaviors for a long time. Some of us still do these things. I learned how to do them as a child.

It’s strange because it seems so obvious and crystal clear to me now, but I genuinely didn’t want to see the truth. I wanted to protect my family from having BIG, BIG problems. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” I joined them from the moment alcohol first passed my lips. I can’t pretend things are okay anymore, either, and I’m not sure exactly what to do about that yet. For now I will continue to process this new, yet old, knowledge by talking, writing, praying, meditating, and forgiving (or at least trying to).

“It isn’t the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it’s how we relate to the things that happen to us that cause us to suffer.” -Pema Chödrön

Health, Love, and Gifts

My son has been sick for the past few days with his first illness since he was born. He is currently snoozing peacefully on my lap as I write this. I look at his sleepy face and feel so much love and gratitude that he exists. He has changed my world, and my perspective, like nothing else in my life.

I have not had the desire to drink over the past few days because I have been busy caring for him. I imagine it is scary to be a baby sometimes, especially when you are in pain or aren’t feeling well, because you can’t understand what is happening. He has wanted to be close to Mama and Daddy constantly, which is totally understandable. Daddy has been a great help over the weekend, but nursing and sleeping are Mama’s territory, out of habit, comfort, and biological necessity. When we finally get him to sleep at night my husband and I breathe a sigh of relief. We are all pretty tired. 

I’ve thought about how things would be different if I were still drinking. I feel ashamed to think that after he went to bed last night I most likely would have had a few drinks to wind down and relax from the stress of caring for him. He woke up a bunch of times during the night, and I would have been slightly buzzed while attending to his needs. That thought breaks my heart.

Today I am grateful to be fully present for my sweet boy while he recovers from his first-ever virus. I am acting like the kind of Mama that I want to be, and I do not feel any shame or guilt. Thoughts about ‘what might have been’ are so much easier to deal with than real actions. Sobriety is a gift that I have given to myself and to those that I love.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Sunday.