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.

 

 

Regrets

What will I regret at the end of my life? Living sober?

I don’t think living a sober life is something that I will EVER regret. Does it feel sort of lonely and flat sometimes? Yes. Do I have cravings for booze sometimes? Yes. Do I feel like I am missing out on fun sometimes? Yes.

Do I regret getting and staying sober for the past six months? Hell to the no.

I have been realizing more and more that experiencing life without tamping down my emotions is really fuckin’ worthwhile. I am feeling more creative than I have in years. I want to add to the world. I didn’t add much when I was drinking, even though I wanted and planned to, because I was stuck in a foggy rut of alcohol abuse. I did okay some of the time, but I was never even close to reaching my potential. Yikes.

I think people who abuse alcohol on the regular do not experience life in the same way. I was caught up in a cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows, hangovers, depression, anxiety, anticipation, being buzzed, wanting more, more, more and experiencing full-on drunkenness and blackouts. The next day the depression, anxiety, guilt and shame would kick in and the craving for booze would begin all over again. I would feel happy when I was drinking because it gave me a brief respite from feeling bad about myself and thinking about my life. I also spent a lot of time planning and thinking about drinking… when, where, with whom, how, on and on. All of that takes a lot of time! Hours, days, weeks, months, and years of my life spent thinking about, engaging in, or recovering from drinking! Fuck me sideways!

I have spent a lot of time in the past six months getting some balance back in my body, mind and spirit. I have had many negative thoughts. I have been scared shitless of living life without any alcohol in it. I have also learned how to be more kind to myself… to set boundaries and say no and tell myself nice things and let go of bad shit that keeps holding me back. I was really, really bad at all of that before. The fog of 20 years of alcohol abuse is slowly lifting from my brain, and I am beginning to see things much more clearly.

I love how this keeps happening… this clarity. It just keeps on coming!

I see that giving up alcohol is something I will never regret when the end comes and I am looking back over my life. Those hours, days, weeks, and years devoted to just getting by through a fog of addiction are now being spent in other ways. Better ways. Ways that fill me up instead of bleeding me dry. I have grabbed the reins and am learning how to be the curator of my life. I am shedding anger and sadness over the past and trying to view the future without fear.

Is living sober perfect? No. I still feel crappy sometimes. I don’t always like myself, sometimes I absolutely hate other people, and I still feel unsure of pretty much EVERYTHING at times. But one thing is for sure- losing the booze has simplified my life by leaps and bounds over the past six months. I like simple, so I am going to stay here.

Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

I am getting better at taking care of myself.

My baby steps are paying off in small but good ways. I am treating myself better than I have… maybe ever? It is shocking to me that I treated myself so shitty now that I have a bit of clarity through sobriety. I didn’t think I was at the time, but I was.

I was doing the best I could then. Luckily, I know better now.

I am only doing simple things to take care of myself, but when repeated daily they have the power to make me feel pretty damn good. Eating healthy and delicious food, getting exercise, looking nice everyday instead of wearing yoga pants, praying, writing, taking some time to myself, etc. …

It all adds up. Self-care is greater than the sum of its parts.

I never knew!

But… I know now, right?

I am trying not to worry about doing it perfectly, either. It is okay to miss a day of exercise, for example, if that is what I need to do to take care of myself. It is NOT okay, however, to make excuses all the time because I am being lazy. Balance, balance, balance. What a nice word. I thought my word of 2014 was surrender, but maybe it is really balance. Maybe it is BOTH.

I am not allowed to talk in a mean way to myself, either. That is not allowed in my new balance-y life.

I just shut those negative thoughts right out of my head, and DO something instead.

Baby steps, baby. Just keep taking them.

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!

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.