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.

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Difficult Times

We got home from our trip last night, and it feels good to be back. Good and sad really, as my father-in-law passed away while we were in California visiting. I am not going to lie- it was really, really hard in so many ways, but especially handling the grief that surrounded me. I was/am sad, as my father-in-law was a wonderful, accomplished, loving man, but I ended up feeling really stressed out by the experience. I am still getting to know my husband’s family in a lot of ways. Most of our relationship has taken place many miles from both of our families, and we got pregnant/bought a house/got married in that order, all in a short amount of time.  I think I am still processing how I handled being there for my husband and his family, what I wish I had done differently, and what I will try to do in difficult future situations. Oh, life. You can be so tricky to navigate sometimes.

We had a long day of travel yesterday getting back home (two plane rides and two long car rides), and I made the decision that I was going to stop to buy beer and cigarettes on the way home. I decided this after our car acted like it wasn’t going to start in the long-term parking lot prior to our two-hour car ride home. Not that this was the worst or hardest part of the week, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I didn’t have a hard time staying away from alcohol during the trip, but the craving REALLY hit me hard in that hot parking lot, with the anxiety and tears building up inside. My brother-in-law magically started the car and we headed home, and I told my husband and brother-in-law that I was going to have a beer later. I felt desperate, like I NEEDED something to take the edge off. I told myself it would be just this one time. I would get drunk, smoke as many cigarettes as I wanted, and start over being sober again the following day. Everyone slips, right? Oh, the twisted thought process that went through my head during this time.

Well, I didn’t do it. I knew that I would feel awful in a myriad of ways if I were to say yes to my HORRIBLE junkie voice. Once we got going in the car and the baby fell asleep in his car seat, I closed my eyes and prayed for help to keep me from drinking and to help me feel NORMAL again. If not normal, then at least as strong as I felt before. So… yes, I pray sometimes. I am not really very religious, but prayer seems to help me when I am feeling really bad. I first noticed the positive effects in college and have done it regularly since then. I guess my prayers worked this time because the need that I was feeling, the desperate, empty, unexplainable hole, seemed to diminish. It closed enough that I was able to tell myself that I would drink another day. Tomorrow, next week, some other time, but not that night. I still felt really shaky about my sobriety- I was holding on by a thread- but I held onto that thread with all the power I could muster. I went home and ordered pizza, even got grouchy with my poor, sweet husband, but went to bed sober.

I am still feeling mentally and physically exhausted from everything that I’ve been through recently, so I plan to exercise some serious self-care over the next few days. I am going to relax around the house in comfy clothes, eat ice cream, watch movies, write here and in my journal, read something good, call friends and family that I have been neglecting, play with my sweet baby, and go for walks. I need to get back to feeling safe. Difficult times without a crutch are just that- difficult. I am a master of escaping from my emotions, and I can’t do that anymore. I think that for me, a true introverted soul, routine and safety are so important. I need to work on a plan for difficult times when I do not have my routine, my home, my familiar surroundings. I read a lot of blogs while I was gone but didn’t have the energy to write… maybe that would have helped.

Anyway, it is good to be back. Thank you for stopping by.