A Mishmash

I have a few things floating around in my brain that I want to get out, here today, at 526 days sober. I have been doing some thinking and a lot of obsessing. Some good, some bad. Such is life, but I am hoping for a breakthrough of some sort soon. I think writing here, in this lovely space, will help that happen. So I have a mishmash of a post here today. I need to clear my brain and let it all go. Thanks in advance for braving through it with me.

I enjoyed reading all the special words chosen for 2015. I have decided, quite late to the party, that my word for the year is inspiration. It keeps hitting me in different ways the more I think about it, which I love. I think it something that could be a lot more present in my life. I sometimes feel that life is meaningless, but when I choose inspiration I don’t feel that way. I feel a spark light up inside of me. Inspiration doesn’t just magically strike, at least not always; it needs to be sought out and given room to grow. So choosing this word means spending more time seeking inspiration in my everyday life. It also means trying my best to be an inspiration to others (humbly, oh so humbly) by living my best life. How else does it fit? Pursuing the spark of inspiration by writing and creating art. So, inspiration it is. Thank you to those ahead of me for inspiring me to choose a special word for 2015. Inspiration is truly everywhere. 🙂

I have also realized recently, maybe today even, that one of my biggest addictions is trying to control the world around me with obsessive thoughts. I don’t always do it, but when something is bothering me I think about it and worry over it until I feel in my bones that I have determined the outcome one way or another. Something clicked for me today, maybe when I was listening to an episode of the Bubble Hour, but I realized that oh hey, I don’t have to determine an outcome for every so-called problem that appears in my life. I don’t need to figure it all out. In fact, I can’t figure it all out, nothing big ever works the way I plan it, and trying is a huge waste of my time and energy. Epiphany!

For example, the past few days I have been obsessing over whether or not I should have another baby. I have thought about the pros, the cons, decided yes, decided no, talked to friends and family about the matter, talked to my husband about it, worried, and stressed. Yes, people do sometimes plan pregnancies or protect themselves against them, but in reality I have limited control over this. Since I have thought about this so much, I know that I will be okay no matter what, that my happiness does not depend in any way on the outcome of this decision, and that the ultimate fate of my uterus is in hands greater than mine. God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it. I am not calling the shots here, even if I desperately want to know what happens in the end. The stories that I tell myself about this subject aren’t helping me, and no matter what happens I will learn something. In fact, I am sure that I will learn valuable lessons no matter what.

This is an recent example, but these types of thoughts are pretty normal for me. I need to plan! I need to figure everything out! I am actually really happy with life right now, but I need to get out of my own way. I am ruining my own happiness. What a waste of a short life.

It is time to set down this heavy load and let myself be happy. It was these kinds of thought patterns that kept me stuck drinking and numbing. I am not numb anymore, I do not drink anymore, so it is time to let that baggage go. It is time to change. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. I think I need to hold it a bit closer these days. I feel like I always need to qualify these things by saying that I am not all that religious, and that I don’t go to AA, but who really cares in the end? Sometimes wisdom is just wisdom. Here is the beginning of the Serenity Prayer if you want to read it, too.

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Wishing you all serenity today.

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Life Lessons

This week has been hard. I’ve been holding onto my sobriety with a tight grip, knowing that drinking won’t do anything good, but desiring the fade out and numbing of my feelings that drinking would provide. Epiphanies, small and large, have been coming one after another, along with a lot of self doubt and uncertainty that I am on the right path.

Epiphanies are cool yet sometimes painful. I have been seeing more clearly the ways in which I have, and still am, living in fear a lot of the time. It is a hard thing to look at honestly because it hurts to see those flaws in myself- to allow myself to be truly vulnerable, even to myself.

I know that isolation is the bain of many alcoholics, but I never saw myself as isolating per se. Instead I told myself that I was a loner. I enjoyed my own company more than that of others. Instead of looking for my people I decided that there were no people like me in the world. I longed to write and needed the space and isolation to do so. Artists have to suffer! They have to weep and self destruct! There are some truths to these words, in these thoughts, but they are not the whole truth. They are not MY truth. I have been living my life shielded by my loner status to avoid the possibility of being rejected by others. To avoid having to show my true self to others. To avoid being vulnerable. And the truth hurts.

That’s the thing about quitting drinking. You no longer have a shield of alcohol to rely on when you are around people or things that scare you. You have to look people in the eye and see them and let them see you. This is a wonderful thing because it allows relationships to develop and form and grow. But it is also hard, especially when you have spent your entire life hiding from others. When you grew up hiding because your family hides and that is simply what people do.

I’ve begun to think that this blog is another way of hiding, which is not to say that it hasn’t been absolutely crucial in getting me sober. I don’t have to talk to people face to face about my drinking, or lack thereof, if I stay home and write about it on the Internet.** When faced with the shortness of life, I have realized that I don’t want to live this way anymore. Instead, I want to ravage life. I want to live it to the absolute fullest. I don’t want to hide away to stay sober. I want to mingle with all the people and experience all of the things, though I think I have experienced about all the alcohol I can handle in one lifetime, so that’s still out.

I was reading an article the other day. I don’t remember where it was from, or who wrote it, and I apologize if it was someone reading this blog because I didn’t like what it had to say. The individual spoke of treating her alcohol addiction as a disability and learning how to work around it for the rest of her life. I have been living my life like my addiction is a disability, so I see where this idea comes from, but I hate the idea of disability in the first place. Why can’t we just be people, with differences. Why do we have to “work around” anything? Why can’t we accept each other as we are? I want to heal the reasons that I drank so much in the first place so that I can go anywhere and do anything without requiring the fake fix that alcohol provides. I want to find my own elation in the world. A way of being that simply does not require or want alcohol to be a part of it. I don’t want to sequester myself into a tiny corner of the world and hide there forever.

Whew. Felt good to get that out.

**Edit: I am not judging anyone for writing about sobriety online. It has been a totally cool, amazing thing for me. Any way you get or stay sober totally freaking rocks. Not that you need to hear this from me, but I wanted to clarify my statement a little.

Notes From a Good Day

Life has been good lately, and I know that it is because of sobriety. I am enjoying living more than I used to… genuinely appreciating the small things. The everyday things. Taking my son swimming. Drinking a delicious cup of coffee in the morning. Going for a hike and really noticing the trees and the sky and hearing the birds, and just feeling happy and content. Feeling joy bubble up inside when I hear a good song on the radio and can’t help but smile and dance around. I look silly, but I don’t care. My son dances, too, and I love how unselfconscious he is. I want that for myself.

It seems that my thinking has shifted. I used to feel fear and pain so much of the time. I thought constantly about drinking, even if I didn’t realize I was thinking about it. Everything revolved around numbing out my fear and pain, because then I was able to laugh and relax for awhile. Drinking was my constant reward for having to deal with life, which I found to be terribly hard and strenuous most of the time. Life wasn’t fair. I didn’t always get what I deserved. People could be so mean. I felt left out and left behind and so, so scared.

This is so much better. The true relaxation and happiness that comes with thinking things through, talking things out, feeling all the feelings on the spectrum, processing the happenings, and really and truly living life on life’s terms.

My family-of-origin has been helpful to me in letting go this past week, as they are nowhere near close to accepting the alcoholism that continues to warp and damage their lives. I have been hitting my head against a brick wall trying to get them to see the truth. Gah. I am realizing how hypocritical I have been by doing that, and therefore feel able to let go of it all, at least for now. Finally. I am sending them love and light from afar.

They aren’t all good days of course, but the good ones are really good. I am grateful to be here, writing to you all and myself, enjoying this glass of iced pomegranate green tea. Now I am off to clean the house and get prepared for a fun play date this afternoon. xo

No Drama Here

My good friend is now hitched, and I made it through the wedding festivities without drinking, so I am feeling good about things. Tired, but good. I was the matron of honor in her wedding, which I have never done before, and turned out to be a pretty fun yet stressful experience. I freaked out last minute about giving a speech at the reception and told her I couldn’t do it, because it was making me feel like diving into the closest vat of champagne (and there was plenty of booze available), but she said one of the other bridesmaids could do it and all was well. I am glad that I spoke my mind, even though I probably should have done it earlier. Public speaking on top of a sober wedding turned out to be a bit too much for me to handle. Maybe after a year of sobriety it won’t be such a big deal… I don’t know. I feel a little sheepish about being so afraid of speaking in front of the wedding, but I am trying to honor my fears and understand when to push through them and when to walk away. No need to push myself too hard too fast- I think it’s self-care to say no when I feel pushed to the edge to the point where my sobriety is in jeopardy. In the end nobody gave a speech at the wedding at all, at least before I left, so I worried about it for nothing. Such is life.

The rest of the festivities- rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception- went fine without booze. The main difference is that I get more tired now…or maybe I just truly feel when I am tired instead of masking it with fake drunk energy. I officially feel like one of the old married ladies, but then I remember that I am part of an old married couple. I did a little dancing, ate some food, chatted with friends, and tried to keep my little guy from having a meltdown. We left at around 10pm and were in bed by 11:30, sober and happy.

My attitude continues to shift… slowly at times, but surely, towards this new sober place of being. And the beauty of waking up feeling good, albeit with a slight emotional hangover, but no shame (from doing something stupid like talking to my friend’s relatives and not remembering what I said, or acting inappropriate and flirty with someone while my husband stood and watched, or any number of other embarrassing possibilities) makes me feel happy. Oh, and being a sober role model to my child. I just LOVE those things. They seriously do not get old.

I have been thinking more and more about life and sobriety being big picture, so whenever I start to worry and doubt myself I try to take a step back. From there I can see that I am on the right track, and that there is no need to worry about anything all that much. My child is not going to be hurt by the effects of parental alcohol use/misuse as long as I stay vigilant, and as an ACOA, I feel so proud of that fact. My life is not going to be hurt by alcohol anymore.

Onwards to the rest of the summer. We have a trip planned in July to see some family on the West Coast, but no big plans otherwise. Time to settle into my new life even more fully as I approach one year sober in August. It sounds good to me. Not dramatic, not particularly exciting even, but nice and wholesome and WHOLE and happy and good.

 

 

Moving Forward

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I passed eight months sober the other day – woo! woo! – as my son would say in his adorable 17-month-old voice.

As far as my recovery is concerned I have been working on letting go of resentments, so I have been focusing energy there. I get really worked up over minor things and have trouble letting them go. People say things that hurt my feelings and it ruffles my feathers for days. I obsess and think about what I COULD have said and on and on. It is exhausting and I want to stop doing it. I have made some progress on letting go of hurts from my past, but I still hold onto real or imaginary hurts from the present too tightly.

I was reading something about resentments that said that if you hold really strong resentments like I do, you might not have had the space available to express your feelings properly as a child. That makes a lot of sense. Living with alcoholic family members means a lot of holding in feelings or having your feelings invalidated. Where there is denial of alcoholism there is a tendency to avoid talking about feelings relating to alcoholism… and everything else, for that matter. I remember feeling resentment as a child, and I don’t think I’ve ever figured out how NOT to feel that way.

I am working on expressing my true feelings in the moment, if it is possible and appropriate. This is great when it happens, but I don’t always understand my feelings in the moment, which is usually when I have resentments about things come up later. Here are a few things I have worked out/picked up about resentments so far. They will be a helpful reminder to me as I move forward.

– Feeling resentment is actually a choice; I am choosing to dwell instead of moving on and focusing on something else.

– Sometimes the resentment I am feeling is actually old resentment from childhood. I am comfortable being in a state of resentment because I have done it for so long, so I find ways to feel that way now. It seems so strange to subconsciously desire this feeling, but humans are adaptable and become comfortable feeling bad if we do it for long enough.

– I feel resentful when I feel threatened by my own vulnerability. I get triggered by something and then want to push the person away. I get defensive and then feel resentful of them after the fact. When I feel resentment I don’t want to include the person in my life for awhile… until I no longer feel that way towards them. I often don’t actually deal with the root of the problem, though, so it keeps coming up over and over again.

-I used to drink over my resentments and I don’t do that anymore. Now I have to feel some discomfort, but it is so much better than numbing out and then saying something about my resentment while drunk. I used to do that sometimes, and it always made things worse. It is better to face these problems head on.

-I do not need to confront the person every time I feel resentment. I need to remember that some of these feelings are old resentments from my past and are overreactions to the present situation.

So far these things are helping a little, but it always helps even more to write my thoughts out here. This blog has been such a good tool on my sober journey. I appreciate having this little space on the internet and people who actually read what I write. You guys are the best. I also learn so much from all of you bloggers, so thank you for doing your thing and sharing it so publicly. It makes me feel understood and comforted on so many levels to know that you all are out there.

 

 

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.

Leaving Things Behind

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I have started over a lot in my life, and I am finding that I have less energy for doing that now. I know that there are many things that I need to leave in my past and things that I need to work to heal, but thinking about my past makes me anxious. In the past few days thinking about the past has been overwhelming me so much that I have been staying firmly planted in the present as much as possible. I do know one thing- I am not the same person that I was a short time ago.

My old life is slipping away, and I am letting it go. That is scary for me, but it feels good, too. I still have so much to figure out and it takes time. Time and patience. My past is not going to magically be resolved, but I am hoping that answers will become clear to me after more time passes.

I have always been kind of a loner. I have always felt weird about being a loner, like it is somehow the ‘wrong’ way to be, but I am starting to accept that that is who I am. I needed to be drunk to be around a lot of people every weekend. Right now I prefer small groups, being with my husband and baby, or being alone. Going to a party sounds fun, but as a special occasion thing, not a regular thing. I am not lonely when I am alone… I like it. But the guilt and anxiety about liking it is still there. I feel that I should try harder to be with others. I fear that I am missing out.

I also sometimes wonder if I am not blindly traveling down a well-worn path from my childhood. My family always isolated themselves, mainly due to my Dad’s alcoholism, but also due to my Mom’s tendency to enable and spend time drinking, too. We started over a lot as a family when I was a kid… moving to new locations in new cities for a fresh start. We never actually said that we were moving for a fresh start… it was always about money or jobs or something else, but in actuality it was because things had gotten hairy in the place we were living and we needed to leave. I suspect that alcoholism played a huge part in that, but I was too young to understand or pay attention to what was really going on. I just went along with it and learned that you start over when the going gets rough, but maybe you call it something else. You also spend most of your time alone. That is normal.

I have been an alcoholic my entire adult life, too. It is much easier to admit now, but it still floors me. How did that happen? How did nobody notice? Do I really like being alone so much, or am I scared to show people who I really am? I don’t know.

There is a lot of conflicting information about letting go of the past. It is good to live ‘in the now’ but you have to find a way to integrate your past into the now. I don’t want to leave my old life completely in the past, but I am not sure how exactly to bring it into the future either.

I am figuring things out slowly. I am letting go of control little by little. I am realizing that life has plans for me, but sometimes I have to get out of my own way. I don’t have the answers to all of my questions.

I am 180 days sober today, and it feels good.