I have a criminal record. A rap sheet with quite a number of charges on it, from three different states, spanning twelve years of my life. Most of the charges ended up being dismissed, but there are two misdemeanor DUI charges and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge that are convictions.
I have spent a lot of time sidestepping this fact, or pretending that it didn’t matter, or denying that it would affect my life. Something happened recently that changed my mindset. I got sick last month. Weirdly sick with some kind of urinary tract infection or kidney infection, or something else perhaps, that my doctor couldn’t figure out. I was in some pain, and scared, and I spent a lot of time thinking about my life and the way I live it. The illness went away after about a month, but I am left with the feeling that I want to do more with my time here on Earth.
While I was actively drinking I let a lot of things fall through the cracks. I dropped out of graduate school after making a big mess of my master’s program, got into legal trouble in spurts from the time I was eighteen, and let my finances crumble to the point where there were legal implications as well as some damage to my credit. I denied that all of these things were problems. Or at least, they were problems that were inexplicably happening to me even though I was living perfectly. I was a victim. I denied alcohol’s role and took no personal responsibility.
It’s not my fault that cops are assholes. It’s not my fault that my professors hate me and don’t want me to succeed in this stupid program. It’s not my fault that the credit system is made to only help rich people. It’s not my fault, you see. None of this is my fault.
Good news: I am finally facing my record. At least I think it is good news… a step in the right direction towards making amends. I am trying my best to clean up the messes that I made during my drinking years. Some of it can never be cleaned up and will haunt me forever, but I am not scared of it anymore. I will no longer lie about it or try to hide it or hope that my records are somehow destroyed in a freak fire. No, it is a part of me. A scar from my past that has made me stronger today. A good reminder that I can never go back down that path unless I want to completely ruin my life. A reminder that I don’t ever want to go back down that path. I like living free of fear and feeling happy with myself when I wake up in the morning. I am grateful for the ups and downs of my life.
Recovery is possible, friends. It might take vigilance and time, but it is possible.
I have been stalking plants in my neighborhood. Daily stalking, mainly through walks, though sometimes I drive, to check out the gardens of the people living in my neighborhood. I am particularly interested in a few hydrangeas living close by. Those sexy beasts. My husband thinks I have gone slightly mad, and I do not completely disagree. He spends his days and nights dreaming of Vespa scooters, so we are a perfect pair, really. A good match with our slightly obsessive temperaments in regards to hobbies. I feel open enough with him to share my obsessions, in part due to the fact that he’s been there during my struggle with booze. So, I am an ex-boozer and plant enthusiast (stalker). Nice to meet you.
Life seems different to me now. When I take my daily walk to visit my plant friends, listening to the sweet and humorous sounds of my son’s new words bubbling up from the stroller in front of me, I notice the vast quantities of life around me. There is life everywhere and it all seems so new to me now. Where was all of this life before? How did I miss it? We live in a wild place, in a small town near a large forest, and we are surrounded by wild things. I stop and look up at the trees almost every day. “Wow. That is an amazing tree,” I say to myself, “How did I never notice how tall? How green? How old? Those leaves. Wow.”
I did notice, of course, in my own way. The trees were there, the people were there, the animals were there, and the life was there. It’s just that I was stuck inside of my sad drinking life- which is what it is to me now. I accept it, surrender to it, and don’t condemn myself for it, but it was sad to be so damn sad all the time. I spent the majority of my precious time feeling sorry for myself, while numbing the life that was all around me, and inside me, and a part of me and everything else. I was keeping myself in the dark instead of allowing myself to wake up and see the light. But I did see the light sometimes. I noticed the beauty of the world around me at times. Enough to eventually wake up, realize there is more out there, and quit drinking.
Life is breathtakingly beautiful at times. Crushing in the sweetest way possible. And sometimes crushing in a not-so-sweet way. It isn’t always easy to feel this much more of every feeling than I used to. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’m going through a really lovely rebellious period right now where I feel happy as hell to be doing my own thing in life. Being me. Sober and proud, baby. I spent some time feeling sad that I wasn’t like everyone else anymore, but now I am happily living my nonconformist, sober life. Time to explore some uncharted territory and find ways to be high on life- real, unfiltered, and raw.
I love this article by Prince Rama’s Nimai Larson about quitting drinking. She is a badass and I admire the shit out of people who make positive changes in their lives. I don’t look down on her, or the countless other amazing people I read about who have quit drinking, so why feel less than myself?
I think it is badass to take control of your life and stop doing something that is hurting you!
The choice to become sober is BIG.
Like moving to a new place big. Getting married big. Starting a new career big. Having a child big.
It’s a life changer.
I once had a boyfriend tell me that he liked me because I saw the big picture about life, and he felt good when he was with me because of it. That compliment has stuck with me because I liked the way it felt to be that person. I want to be a big picture thinker. I want to make choices in a big picture kind of way.
Getting sober is hard sometimes, as big changes often are. It is also hard to move to a new place and start a fulfilling life. It takes time, energy, effort, and getting out of your comfort zone to do so. You have to learn the layout of the place, meet new friends, start a new job, etc. After some time passes, though, you realize that your life has been expanded in an amazing way because you took a risk. The same goes for having a child or embarking on a serious relationship, or even getting a divorce and starting over. Anything that changes the trajectory of your life in a way that you will notice forever and ever.
When I look back over my life I will forget a lot of the daily struggles that go along with becoming a sober person. Instead, I will remember that I got sober at the age of 33. I will remember and be proud that I decided to be an example for my son of bravery, self-improvement, and love. I will know that I began liking myself, and loving myself, at this time. I will look back and see that my life changed for the better when I put down the bottle. I will not regret this choice.
I do not regret this choice.
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!
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
I was doing some reading yesterday, and I came across a motivational idea in the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. WHAT IF I could give up the path of struggle and instead choose the path of joy?
Hmm. My mind immediately went to A) sounds kinda hokey B) How is that even possible? C) Well, that might be cool. I HAVE struggled a lot already in my life. D) Hell yeah! I’m doin’ it!
Why am I always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Thinking about the past, worrying about the future, not enjoying the present. Why does everything have to involve so much pain?
Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I can choose. I was looking into this idea and I found this quote. I pretty much love it.
“There are two ways of approaching life. The first is coping and the second is challenging to change a situation. The situation is the same but the results are different. Coping is linked to the past and our past knowledge and experiences. It is a conservative attitude, limited, restricted, passive, defensive, dependent. There is no vision and no hope. This is not Buddhism. Buddhism is about change. Changing ourselves, society and humanity for good. The way to change is determination based on wisdom. Change is a projection towards the future. It is positive, creative, independent, attacking and seeking. It is an attitude of great hope and vision. Coping is the past projecting to the present. Changing is the present projecting to the future. We can choose. The difference between ordinary and great lives is up to us.” -Kazuo Fujii, Buddhist Leader
Instead of looking for the downside I can look for the opportunity in each situation. I can let go of drama. I don’t have to live my life simply reacting to things based upon my past. I can fully embrace the present. Life does not have to be a constant struggle.
I think it will require some work, but the seeds are planted. I choose joy… and I can totally dig it.
I have been feeling kind of low the past couple of days…after feeling pretty high for a few days from successfully getting through the holidays sober. It could be anything…too much sugar from leftover cookies, PMS, winter blahs, PAWS. Who really knows? I have been irritable with my husband, tired, depressed, and pretty unmotivated. January seems like the time to get started doing lots of healthy and productive things that I don’t really feel like doing right now.
So, I have decided that I am going to give myself a break. It is frigidly cold here today, and around many parts of the U.S., so I am staying in, cooking soup, playing with my babe, and catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey while he naps. No use beating myself up for feeling this way. I am going to surrender to my crappy feelings and try to have an okay day anyway. I shall take my vitamins, drink lots of tea and water, stay away from the cookies, and have faith that tomorrow will be a better day.
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.
100 days sober. Bring on the unicorn glitter parade! 🙂
I have never purposefully quit for this long before (in 20 years of drinking), aside from during my pregnancy, and that didn’t really count cause I was counting down the days until I could booze again. I was sober but not learning or growing as a result of it. In honor of 100 days I decided to put together a list of some of the thoughts I am having about this journey so far. It ended up being kind of random…my apologies.
- I have been feeling pretty bumbling lately in a lot of my interpersonal relationships. I have been saying the wrong thing a lot, mainly in a good-hearted attempt to speak my truth. I am trying to be honest, but I think I need to take some lessons in sensitivity… or just stop talking. Being sober is a huge learning experience. I dunno, I think when you get sober you have to do a lot of introspection, and it’s pretty deep, and it’s hard to talk about it without sounding like an asshole sometimes. I guess I feel like I am in an awkward stage of my sobriety where I want to help others, but don’t have the tools to do so. I am hoping that I get better at communicating my thoughts on sobriety without sounding so weird about it. In the meantime I am going to stop talking about being sober so much and try to just BE for awhile.
- I am getting tired of focusing so much time on being sober. Like … I just want to get to the down and dirty of living my sober and totally kick-ass life. I know I need to continue to focus a good amount of time reading about sobriety, writing about my experiences, and processing daily events, but I think it is okay to stop obsessing about getting sober all the time. I am officially doing it. I give myself permission to think about other stuff sometimes.
- I am choosing to approach sobriety believing that I will never drink again, but when it gets hard I take it one day at a time. I think taking the option to drink totally off the table has helped me. I had to make a big commitment in order to get this far, and it is a lot easier to tell myself a big fat NO when I want to drink rather than letting those sneaky thoughts slip in that I can have just one, or that I really don’t have a problem. No waffling allowed. I can’t drink … it is an absolute. But some days I talk myself through cravings by going one day at a time. I mean, I can always drink tomorrow, you know? It works.
- Certain things worried the heck out of me when I stopped drinking, and now they are no big deal. I don’t miss bars like I thought I would. At first I was so sad … where would I go for fun? I have to say it is such a relief that I don’t really miss that lifestyle. I hope that one day I can go anywhere without wanting to drink, even a bar, but not yet. I am not ready. Some of my friends have stopped inviting me places, and that is okay. Some of my friends have been really great. My point is that it has been different than I expected. Better. The universe has provided me with ENOUGH, and it is a good feeling. The scariest part is just DOING it in the first place.
- I love feeling good every day. I feel healthy, free of hangovers, guilt-free, shame-free. I have a clear conscience, more motivation, and more lettuce in my pockets. My life has less drama. Overall, it is groovy to feel so good on a daily basis. A vast improvement from 100 days ago when my anxiety was absolutely through the roof.
- There are some things that will not change just because I am sober. Quite a few members of my family still have problems with alcohol, and they aren’t going to stop because of me. It hurts and I hate it, but I can deal with it. I am no longer a powerless child like I was when I first started drinking. I am not a victim. I am working on forgiveness with good boundaries intact. I am learning that I control my feelings to an extent, and that I do not control the world around me. This is a work in progress. I think this will ALWAYS be a work in progress. 🙂
I am so freaking glad that I decided to get sober. My life is SO much better already. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 100 days. There are some tough times ahead with the holidays and stuff, but I am picturing how AMAZING it will be to get through them sober. I can’t wait.