Happy New Year!

butterfly-change-picture-quote

I love this. It is kinda perfect for those of us who are not quite sure what our sober lives will look like in the long term. Maybe we are on the verge of becoming butterflies if we can just accept that our days as caterpillars are over? I think so.

xx-

Jen

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A Mixed Bag

I have been a bit stressed out this holiday season, but I am holding tightly onto my sobriety. We have had two attempted break-ins (TWO! WTF!), family visiting, a teething and non-sleeping baby, etc. It has been tempting to look for answers in the booze, but I keep hearing over and over that they are not to be found there, and I believe it. How would being drunk help any of those things? It wouldn’t, and it would probably make them all worse. I am struggling with how to have fun without it, though. I know, I know…it wasn’t really “fun” anyway, but it made the boredom and bad feelings a lot more fuzzy, while everything is so crystal clear and sharp now. Drinking made me less present so I didn’t notice how little fun I was actually having. I mean, often I didn’t remember ANYTHING after drinking for more than a few hours, so I had no idea whether I had fun or not.

Well…that pretty much ruins my thoughts romanticizing the drink. I absolutely HATED waking up not remembering anything, and now that never happens. One huge point for sobriety.

Early sobriety is a little like limbo. I am not yet comfortable being sober all the time, but I no longer want to be drunk. Or be a drunk, I suppose, because sometimes I do think it would be nice to be drunk for a few hours. Then I quickly think through the drink and…nope. I don’t want that life. So…patience is key. It gets easier in tiny increments and sometimes it goes two steps forward one step back. Progress feels slower around the holidays when everyone seems to be imbibing, and all sorts of unpleasant feelings come out to play for a whole bunch of reasons.

I am taking plenty of deep breaths. The end of the holidays is near. New Year’s Eve is tomorrow and I have limited my plans to the bare minimum, as I have done with every other major event this year. Kinda lame, maybe, but I am still too shaky to put myself in precarious situations with lots of alcohol. Maybe after a year or two…if I even want to be in those situations by then.

I will continue to make big plans for my sobriety, and my life, and then take it one day at a time. It is a mixed bag sometimes, but it is my bag and I am gonna focus on the good stuff as much as I can. I am opening my heart more and locking my doors tighter. Wishing you all a wonderful and happy New Year.

A Very Grateful Christmas

Glass be grateful

I am trying to switch to an attitude of gratitude for the hardest times in my life. The times that make my heart feel tender when I think about them, whether they happened yesterday or 20 years ago. Because maybe, just maybe, those things happened to teach me something.

I guess I am growing tired of playing the blame game. Everyone has a story. Some are sadder than others, but they all have tender parts. Life is a messy and difficult thing, but it is also crazy and joyous and unexpected and fun (at times…if you let it be). I turned out to be an alcoholic. While some of that has to do with my upbringing, a lot of it has to do with MY choices and MY journey. I ended up here because I needed to be here. Maybe some people are more stubborn than others and it TAKES becoming an alcoholic to get them to wake up. I don’t know. Not everyone gets the chance to learn, break free from denial, and change their lives. I have the opportunity to do so, and that means that I am going to count myself lucky.

This Christmas, I am giving myself and my family the gift of forgiveness through gratitude. Thank you, life, for putting me in the situation that I am in. Thank you for letting me experience the ups and downs that I have been through. Thank you for FINALLY allowing me to break free from drinking myself numb all the time. That is a hard damn thing to do, so feel grateful whether you are sober or trying to get there.

I have more love for myself than I used to, and I am stronger than I thought. So are you. That is something to be grateful for. Merry Christmas.

We Are Trying For SOMETHING

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I needed this reminder today.

Sometimes it seems like the more work I do on myself, the more work that needs to be done. It is a never-ending process. When I take a step back and look at the big picture, however, I can see that my life is gradually getting better and better. I have taken responsibility for my life and happiness in a totally new way by getting sober.

I look at this quote as another reminder from the universe to be gentle on myself, even when I make mistakes. I haven’t been close to drinking, but I am so far from perfect sometimes…wow. I can be harsh, critical, grouchy, not present with those I love, etc. I am trying to be better at all of those things, and that effort matters. It means that I care about the impact I am having on the world around me.

So…if you are reading this, you are trying too. Be gentle on yourself.

Sunny Day

I am no longer feeling angry, thank God. It didn’t last too long. Writing really helps me process and release my feelings, so I am freaking thankful that I started this blog. Back to normal and feeling happy most of the time.

I enforced boundaries with my younger brother this weekend by telling him not to visit me this holiday season because he won’t stop calling me drunk. I feel bad about it. Guilty. I think it was the right thing to do, though. Drunken phone calls from relatives really mess up my day. Especially at 8 in the morning after an all-night bender.

Enforcing boundaries in this situation caused problems with my mother, too. She was angry and hurt. Relationships are all kind of codependent in my family. We talked and worked it out, and she is going to fly here for part of the holidays instead of driving with my brother. I feel better about it now because we cleared the air by saying some things that needed to be said. Everything isn’t resolved or agreed upon- that will likely never happen- but we see each other more clearly.

And again, I feel bad that I hurt my mom, but I HAVE to do what is best for me right now. I am choosing a no stress, no drama, feel good kind of holiday season. I will work on my relationship with my brother as I grow stronger being sober. It is going to be really hard for me to be around active alcoholics for awhile, but hopefully he will gain an understanding of how serious I am because of this situation. We will see what happens, and I will hope for the best and try to be kind. I know how hard it is to be stuck in that shitty cycle of addiction. It took me a long time to break free, and I have to work at it every day.

Other than family stuff, being sober is wonderful right now. I don’t miss drinking very often because I genuinely feel GOOD most of the time. It is pretty sweet and cool and I am holding on tight to my new life. I am definitely a less social creature, though. That might change, but it might not. I think I will always be more of a one-on-one, quiet coffee date kind of girl than I used to be. I am also a pretty new mother, and I think it is all tied together. I like being home with my husband and child.

We had a nice weekend decorating our tree, doing craft projects, making homemade candies for gifts, shopping and cooking. I don’t think alcohol would have made it one iota better, and it quite possibly could have made it worse in some way. I think I have cleared the obstacles in my path (with family, mainly) to have a happy, sober holiday season, and I am totally excited about it. Happy Monday!

I Hate Alcohol

Booze has taken so much from me. It is pretty futile being angry at an organic compound … a substance that has no agenda … but I am, dammit! That is where I am right now. Fucking angry. Maybe it is part of the process of recovery? Who knows. I hate alcohol, though. Like, really fucking hate it.

I feel angry because alcohol stole my childhood. I then proceeded to give it the reins to steal time in my adult life.

It has stolen people I love. People who continue to choose it every day over other people in their lives.

I am angry that alcoholism might be lurking in my child’s genes.

I hate the fact that it almost killed me, and that it does kill people, and that it probably will kill me if I give it the chance.

I hate that people believe that alcohol is worth giving up their lives for. Worth giving up hope, love, friendship, family, hobbies, work, values, morals, etc. It is not worth it! Those things are better!

I am angry because alcohol is sneaky and tricky and mean and vicious. People choose to drink it, but some people feel compelled to drink it more than others. I can never know the depths of someone else’s pain and reasons for drinking, but it makes me angry that it is so fucking hard for some people to stop. And that it is so hard to stay stopped for other people.

So yeah, that is where I am today. I am hoping that by writing it down I am helping to release it.  Bye, bye anger!

Tenets of My Sobriety

I thought I would write a little about the major things that help me stay sober on a daily basis. I think they will grow and change as I grow and change, so I want to have a list to reflect upon for my future self. Here goes.

Prayer: This summer, before I quit drinking, I prayed to the universe to help me get sober. I really think that doing that led me to where I am today. I don’t think you have to be religious to get sober, but I think praying to a higher power can help you. What happens when you do is so mysterious and wonderful it’s hard to believe. I pray every single day … usually when I am lying down with the baby trying to get him to fall asleep. There are so many short, simple prayers out there, or you can make up your own. Simple and effective. I’m all about it.

Gratitude: I used to think a lot about lack. Lack of money, opportunities, friends, family, love, material items. I try really hard not to do this now. Gratitude helps me so much. I make lists when I have time, or I mentally go through things that I am grateful for. My life feels more abundant than it used to, and I am pretty sure that gratitude has something to do with it. This also helps to keep me from feeling deprived because “I can’t” drink. There are so many things that I CAN do … shifting the focus to gratitude helps to keep me from going to that negative, deprived mental space.

Support: Hello, sober blogosphere! Blogging has been really great as a way to gain support from people who truly understand what I am going through. You kind of have to put yourself out there, but you can do it anonymously if you want, which works GREAT for old introverted me. There have been a few days where I contemplated drinking but didn’t because I didn’t want to have to write about it here. So … support and accountability all in one place. I am grateful everyday to have stumbled upon sober blogs during those early months. Women for Sobriety has also been a great source of support. I don’t generally do the chat group meetings but I post questions or concerns in the forums when I need to. Belle and Team 100 have been great, also. I signed up for the 180 Day Challenge, but I have been bad about e-mailing lately. My husband provides me with tons of support, as do a few friends, when I reach out for it. I think support is absolutely necessary for getting and staying sober, but how you go about getting it, and making sure that you get ENOUGH, is your own business.

Anti-Guilt: I used to feel so guilty about everything all the gosh darn time. I am trying to let go of that. It is okay to do sobriety MY way- I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I don’t need to worry about not going to AA, for example, as long as my personal sober plan is working. I am still sober and in recovery- MY WAY. I don’t need to feel guilty about eating chocolate, drinking Diet Cokes, or getting grouchy once in awhile. I do not have to be perfect as long as I am sober and learning and growing and trying to do my best and living my life. ANTI-GUILT STYLE!

Self-Love: I talk a lot about self-love on this blog because it is the shit! I mean, without it you can’t give as much to the rest of the world. It just makes life richer. How I do this changes all the time. Simply realizing that not drinking is a form of self-love was a huge part of my journey. Setting boundaries, taking care of myself, nourishing my body, being kind, boosting my self-esteem … these are all a part of it.

Boundaries: I have had to set some boundaries and then do the difficult task of enforcing them when they are trampled on. Toxic people, drama, constant negativity … they don’t have a place in my life anymore. Even when they are coming from people I love. I am learning that staying sober means taking care of myself, and taking care of myself means setting boundaries and sticking with them. It can be tough shit at times because it hurts to enforce them, but it is so necessary for healing myself.

Feelings: I wouldn’t be able to do this without changing my approach to feelings. I used to be so scared of them! I would drink them away to avoid them. So, I am learning that they are not that big of a deal. Sure, they take over my brain and body at times, but if I let myself feel them … like, really feel them … I can usually move on! Also- they always, always, always pass in time. You can go about your day knowing that, oh hey, this sadness/anger/joy/fear/whatever will come and go. I pay attention to them, feel them, process and learn from them, but don’t let them rule me. At least I am trying, and so far, it seems to be helping.

Distraction: When all of my lofty goals fail and I feel like poop, it is perfectly okay to distract myself by watching a movie, reading a trashy novel, or browsing through the entire ModCloth or Ikea online catalogue (and they are BIG). It is okay not to think about serious things all the time. This ties in with the anti-guilt, too. Sometimes sleeping is a good distraction.

For me, staying sober means All OF THESE THINGS (more emphasis than yelling, sorry).