Sober Night Out

I mentioned recently that I had plans to go out with friends this weekend and next, and last night was the first time in quite awhile that I did so. I met a group of old friends- friends that I don’t see so often these days- for drinks and appetizers at a restaurant/wine bar, and then we moved on to a legitimate bar for more drinks. Overall, it was fun to see friends and a good learning experience. I went a bit late and left pretty early, which was a good strategy this time.

I never really looked at it this way in the past, but now the whole concept of socializing at bars for hours and hours late at night seems like a waste of time to me. People should do what makes them happy, but for me, at this point in my life, having fuzzy, overly enthused conversations with acquaintances into the wee hours of the morning is not that much fun. I would rather have real conversations with people who are fully present. The late night bar scene seems like mental masturbation compared to the many things I could be doing that improve my life such as reading a great book, catching up on sleep, hanging out with my family, exercising, meditating, working on a project that makes me genuinely happy and content, or connecting with friends sober. I am not putting people down for doing this- I spent so much time in bars in the past that I would never judge anyone for that lifestyle choice- it is just not my thing anymore. I am perfectly okay with going to a nice restaurant for appetizers and drinks, enjoying a (non-alcoholic) cocktail on a patio in the summer, or going to a BBQ where alcohol is served, but I think I will avoid bars unless it is a special occasion or there is a band that I really want to see or another compelling reason.

It was strange to come home and talk to my husband about the night after the fact. At one point I realized that I never used to remember conversations so clearly during my drinking days. I remembered who I made plans with, what people said, who I saw, etc., and was able to share all of those small details with my husband. In the past I would have been trying to piece that information together the next day. I guess it is normal to remember everything about a night out? What a foreign concept. I don’t know though, it seems like even non-problem drinkers get a little exuberant and loose-lipped while drinking. I had to remind myself that all of the plans I made throughout the night might not actually come to fruition because the people I made them with were drinking, and I can’t be sure how much they were drinking exactly. Weird to be on that side of things for a change. I probably made a zillion plans with people in the past that I totally forgot about the next day. I wonder how many people’s feelings I hurt by doing that? Being drunk is not a very good excuse for shitty behavior.

Overall it was harmless and pretty fun. I left when I started to feel tired and slightly uncomfortable, and was happy to have a cup of tea, a piece of chocolate, and a cuddle in front of the TV with my husband before bed. It was a nice night. I am looking forward to a friend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party next weekend- hopefully it will be fun, too. It seems like all my friends are getting married this year! Maybe one day I will remember this as the year of sober weddings. 🙂

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Grey Areas

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My thinking is becoming less black and white than it used to be- I both think and hope this is true. I am noticing the grey areas, and actually feel comfortable living there some of the time. I realize now that the black and white thinking that I was doing was childlike, probably because I never completely moved on from my childhood. I notice when I overreact to things, even if I am unable to completely stop myself from doing it. Progress, progress, progress. My sobriety is trudging along, making small changes in me, as long as I stick to the plan.

I must stick to the recovery plan that I constructed many months ago because it is still working. The pillars of prayer and gratitude keep me going. I am not going to attempt to live without them, probably ever again in my whole life, because it is too damn scary to contemplate drinking at this point. I just don’t want to go through that again, you know? The months of mental and physical self-harm leading up to the actual torturous quitting process. No thanks. I remember that whenever I am tempted to drink, which isn’t too often these days. The cravings come out of the blue and surprise me sometimes, or I feel a bit flat and bored, but nothing I can’t handle pretty easily. I remind myself that every single day is only twenty-four hours, and I can live through pretty much anything for twenty-four hours. After all, tomorrow is another day. Thank you, Scarlett O’Hara. I have loved her since I was twelve.

It is true that life goes on without drinking. I am slowly venturing out into the real world more and more, and handling it without experiencing crippling anxiety. I still feel anxious in new settings, but I am venturing out because I know it will get easier over time, and I am able to regulate my anxiety once again. I have a few events coming up where drinking will be happening, and I am curious to see how they go. I think I will be able to handle them a zillion times better than I did six months ago, but I will still have a plan to leave if I need to. My sobriety comes first, because it allows me to have everything else. It deserves to be treated with care and respect.

Recovery is real, people. Many of you know this, but if you are doubtful I am one more voice to tell you that it does get better. xoxo

Your Weirdness Will Make You Stronger…

weirdness

I saw this the other day when I was feeling bad. I have decided to move forward, take the good advice of you lovely people, and stop being so hard on myself. I have the tendency to overthink things, and it doesn’t do me any good. In fact, I get in my own way a lot of the time. Overthinkers unite!

After some thought (I know- I am thinking again), I realized that one of the main problems I have that leads to lying and manipulation is that I am not doing work that I enjoy to make money. Money is the worst sometimes. I only work a little, but I feel stuck and unhappy when I do it, and it leads me to cut corners at times because I want to finish as quickly as possible to work on fun, creative pursuits that I enjoy. The crazy thing is that I don’t really HAVE to work, but I put pressure on myself to do so. I want to focus on doing more creative stuff that could eventually lead to an income, but likely not for awhile, and not worry so much about adding to the household pot right now.

This means budgeting more carefully so that we are not counting on my income, and then only working when I feel good about it. When I can give it my complete, 100% attention and effort. I am going to start another blog to document my projects and creative pursuits, and to really try to figure out what it is that I would actually like to do for money when my son is a little older. I am going to get out of my own way and use the opportunity that I have been given to explore and experiment with what makes me happy.

I am scared to do this, which is why I have stayed stuck for so long. It is easier to keep working doing things that I don’t enjoy while simultaneously putting pressure on myself, beating myself up, and being unhappy, instead of following my dreams wherever they may take me. The crazy thing is that I have followed this same pattern for years. I have never taken the time to truly find out what I am good at and what I can really do. Fear of failure, maybe? Fear of disapproval? It doesn’t matter- I want more out of life!

This has to do with drinking because I can’t continue feeling bad about this without eventually giving in to the temptation to drink. I am setting myself up for eventual failure by continuing this pattern. Time to rearrange things, change it up, take the pressure off, and work on truly being happy. Scary but so freakin’ cool!

Liar Liar

I realized yesterday that I sometimes still lie and manipulate even though I am sober. The scary part is that I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time. I am not sure how to be 100% honest with myself…. I thought I WAS being honest with myself and doing the right thing. I am trying to do better at life- be a better person- but this realization made me feel pretty shitty.

What do I do about this? How do I get better at seeing my blind spots? I am not sure. Practice, maybe? Weed them out one by one until they are all gone? Try to do no harm in my everyday life? Think twice before making any moves? Yes to all of it. I need to be more careful and mindful of my thoughts and actions and how they affect the world around me. Alcoholics are selfish, and I am an alcoholic. Fuck, shit, and balls.

Or maybe this is good. I am moving to a new level where I can see things more clearly (again). I didn’t used to be capable of seeing these things about myself, and now I can. THIS IS A GOOD THING. This is not an excuse to drink, it is a sign that I am continuing to grow and change. There are growing pains along the way, of course.

It comes down to self-acceptance. I don’t like these shadowy parts of myself, but they exist. They have had years of practice and they will win sometimes. I have to accept that they are a part of me to truly move forward and put them behind me.

“Be what you are. This is the first step towards becoming better than you are.” – J. C. Hare & A. W. Hare

Gym Rat (Not Really)

I joined a gym for the first time in years. I feel nervous about it! By joining I have committed myself to going. Plus- I am a stay-at-home Mom who hardly ever has childcare, so I will be using the childcare at the gym. That is a scary step for me/us, too. My son and I have been attached at the hip since he was born, and even more so since I got sober.

It is a positive step for us. I will focus on that and try to let the fear go.

I have so many goals. Sometimes they feel impossible. I try to remember to take it one freakin’ day at a time and do a few things today better than I did yesterday. A few SMALL things. Some days that doesn’t work out, but I like to think that the general trajectory of my life is moving in a positive and expansive direction. There are dips where I stop moving or move backwards, but the general progress is upwards and outwards.

“Remember to dream big, think long-term, underachieve on a daily basis, and take baby steps. That is the key to long-term success.” -Robert Kiyosaki

Happy Weekend! xx

Feelings and Reactions

I am getting to a place where I feel pretty solid sober. Cravings come every once in awhile, but they can be dismissed much easier than the cravings I felt in the first few months. This is good. I like being sober, my life is going well, I have more clarity, I am energetic and making positive changes in many areas of my life. Good, good, good. Oh, and did I mention that I am 200 days sober today?

Now I am working on all the STUFF that comes up from being sober. I am no longer numbing my feelings with buckets of booze, so I have to deal with them somehow. I might have mentioned it before, but DEALING WITH FEELINGS IS HARD. For everyone, not just me, but this is my blog.

I am realizing that I almost always want to react immediately when my feelings are hurt or my buttons are pushed. I want to TELL THAT PERSON THAT THEY HURT ME RIGHT THEN AND THERE. I have a need to do something right away. I have a hard time letting go without action.

I basically see red until I say something, or text something, or write an email, or call the person. I have a hard time concentrating on other things until I clear my head of the issue and get it out on the table. DIRECTLY TO THE PERSON.

I believe in honesty and telling people how I feel, but sometimes I think I am reacting to my feelings instead of taking the time to think about what I am saying. I move too quickly to let people know that they hurt me. I want to stop doing this.  I want to detach and learn how to deal with my feelings without ALWAYS having to tell the other person everything that is in my head. I want to create space in my life for new reactions and thoughts. I want to be more patient with my feelings… to see how they change, flow, ebb if I don’t react right away. I think I am missing an opportunity for healing by blaming the other person for my feelings. I don’t want to follow the same patterns of thinking and behaving from my past.

Wow, writing about this subject is triggering me. I can feel my shoulders tensing up.

I really like for communication to be crystal clear. Things were murky when I was a kid, so I prefer to have everything out in the open. Is this always the best way to do things, though? I am realizing more and more that it isn’t.

I think people don’t communicate their feelings to one another often enough, which leads to many miscommunications in life. People should talk more and tell each other their thoughts and feelings. I err on the opposite side, though, by sharing too much, too often. LOUDLY.

There is a time and place to have talks about hurt feelings, and sometimes I need to put on my big girl pants and deal with it on my own. It is selfish to put it on the other person’s plate when it is really all about ME and my perceptions. Chances are they didn’t mean to hurt me in the first place.

I know that it will be hard to change this, but from here on out I am making the intention to pause before I react. I shall simply pause to sit with my feelings for a few moments, regardless of the discomfort I feel. Maybe I could write them down, take a shower and cry in private, or go for a run to help release them instead of going straight to the person with them.

Huh, sounds so grown up.

Cravings Are Proof

I read an article by Russell Brand after the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. You might have seen it around… I found it here after reading it somewhere else first. There was a part of his article that got me thinking about how powerful addiction really is. I’m not sure if Russell Brand is an alcoholic, but he is a recovering drug addict and addiction is… addiction. There are similarities to be found regardless of the substance. Anyway, I have been thinking about his words ever since. The truth of them really struck me.

“Recently, for the purposes of a documentary on this subject, I reviewed some footage of myself smoking heroin. I sit wasted and slumped with an unacceptable haircut against a wall in another Hackney flat (Hackney is starting to seem like part of the problem), inhaling fizzy black snakes of smack off a scrap of crumpled foil. When I saw the tape a month or so ago, what was surprising was that my reaction was not one of gratitude for the positive changes I’ve experienced. Instead I felt envious of this earlier version of myself, unencumbered by the burden of abstinence. I sat in a suite at the Savoy hotel, in privilege, resenting the woeful ratbag I once was who, for all his problems, had drugs.” -Russell Brand

Shit. I get that. I have felt jealous of my old self, my drinking self, even though I am so much happier and better off now… simply because I could drink. I hadn’t yet drank the sober kool-aid and my alcoholism could go on with its walls of denial securely in place.

Whenever I have cravings for alcohol I now think of them as proof that I am an addict. Why? Because my life is better without it! Like… way better! Cravings for a substance that was hurting me and making my life shitty is not logical. Last night I actually thought about drinking again after my son goes to college… he is 15 months old. Is that logical? No. Is it comical? Maybe. Is it happening? Hell no. Why would I want to do that? I LIKE MY LIFE BETTER SOBER. Sorry to yell. It is just so true.

So now I look at my cravings as proof that I really am an addict. Thank you for letting me know, craving. I think I will pass. I will beat you because you do not hold power over me unless I give in to you. I will try to be grateful for you because you are teaching me about myself every time you show up.