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.

the-serenity-prayer

Wishing you all serenity today.

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Ups, Downs and All-Arounds

I was worried there for a bit, but things are starting to feel better. Life was beginning to feel really hard without alcohol. Like, really damn hard. I was feeling left out of activities because I no longer drink, worrying about meeting new people sober, and thinking that my husband would probably want to leave me because of how boring I have become since we were married, due to the lack of alcohol in my life, of course. My thoughts and reactions have been totally overblown and my paranoia has been in full effect. Last night I started thinking about why I have been feeling this way, and alas, I just passed 9 months sober last week. That significant trigger of a date plus a yucky sinus problem that felt never-ending pushed me over the edge, I think. Or triggered a PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) episode, more accurately.

Luckily yesterday, when I was beginning to think that I couldn’t take the stress and strain of it all anymore, I found some really reassuring reading about getting back to normal in sobriety and how at 9 months, it probably ain’t gonna happen. Not yet. But I am on the way there, and that makes me feel better. Just knowing and understanding that I was having a PAWS episode helped make me feel better. Like, right on. I’ve dealt with this before… I can handle this. Just ride it out and see what I can find out about myself in the process.

One thing I have learned from this rough patch is that I need to have a better plan for rough patches. Until today, I could feel myself slowly slipping down the path of relapse one negative thought at a time. I feel lucky to have found something- grace perhaps?- when I did. I was pulled up and out of my negative thinking at a crucial time. What will I do when something really bad happens? I don’t want to sit around waiting for my life to go to shit, but based on the fact that shitty, sad, scary, and bad things happen to everyone, I think I would be remiss not to make a plan for this eventuality. I am not sure what my plan is exactly, but working my atypical program on a regular basis is vital. The problem, I believe, is that relapse creeps up like depression and hits you when you are at your worst, when you’re weak and feeling less-than-able, so some of my program needs to be built into my life. Routine. Support people. Sturdy things that are there no matter what during those rough times. I need to work on structure.

I also need to remind myself to have more patience. I am thrilled to be free from alcohol for 9 months, but I am still learning about myself and my limitations. In order to stay off the booze I need to be careful with how I choose to spend my time, who I spend it with, etc. My ‘old normal’ just isn’t an option anymore, even if I feel left out of activities sometimes. I don’t get invited to bar outings anymore, which makes me feel sad and left out and bereft, but do I really want to go, anyway? Should I go? Probably not, to be honest. As much as I admire the cool sober chicks who are fine being at bars on the reg, I am just not there yet… and I might not ever be there. And that’s okay. Sobriety isn’t a one-size-fits-all kinda thing. It isn’t even a one-size-fits-all thing for me. It changes regularly.

I think I am finally-sorta-kinda-maybe beginning to understand that self-care is doing what feels right, what I can handle, and what is good for me on a day-to-day basis. I have always admired it in theory, but am pretty self-care challenged in everyday life, as much as it pains me to admit. In real life sobriety with real life things happening, there are ups, downs and all-arounds that you have to deal with. Luckily, it seems that the answer is pretty simple. Don’t drink and eventually you will be okay again. I was going to say don’t drink, do some processing, and eventually you will be okay again, but I am not sure that is accurate. Sometimes the processing just seems to happen with time. I have been dreaming crazy dreams like a madwoman the past few weeks, and I think my mind has been doing some subconscious processing… with or without me.

So, in summary, life is a mystery, but it is also amazing to be able to really and truly experience it without booze. Thanks for reading, my friends.

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

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

A Little of This and That

I have been busy planning a friend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party for next month. It is my latest obsession. It seems like I get through my days better if I have something to focus on… something to distract me from being present all the time. Last week I was researching cars like crazy, making lists, deciding which would be best for my family. This week it is party planning. Don’t get me wrong- I like doing these things most of the time. I might obsess a bit much, though. I also sometimes obsess and then drop the project completely when I get bored. Hmm.

The cool thing is that I am 100% not worried about being sober at this party. I am actually looking forward to it. I will be present, clear-headed, helpful, and able to DRIVE. So… it will be good. Plus- it’s not about me so I can sit back, relax, and help my friend have a great day.

I feel guilty when I am not 110% present in my life, which is ridiculous, I think. Nobody is totally present all the time. Distractions are good, especially in early sobriety….which I am STILL IN. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. Slow down, speedy, there is plenty of time to rule the world. But still… the nagging thought that I NEED something outside of myself to be fulfilled upsets me. It’s always on to the next purpose, goal, item to buy. Keep moving, moving, moving, buying, buying, buying. Sometimes it just all seems so compulsive and depressing. I didn’t want to get sober just to start ‘keeping up with the joneses’, you know?

Or maybe that was an excuse that I used to tell myself when I wanted too much out of life. I didn’t want to be greedy and materialistic like everybody else. Somewhere along the line being responsible became too normal for me. I was too cool for that shit. DOWN WITH THE MAN.

So now that I am sober and cleaning up my messes I realize that I was wrong about people. They aren’t boring because they are responsible… I said that to feel better about my life. I see it more clearly now because I am not boring even though I am behaving in a responsible way. Even if I am boring… who cares. I don’t have to please everyone, anyway.

This post is pretty rambling…. thanks for reading. 🙂

I spoke with a family member last night and they told me all about this person at their job who had it in for them, and it reminded me of the old me. I used to always worry that other people had it in for me. I also thought people were assholes a lot of the time. I am realizing that I was wrong.

a) People can be assholes but they aren’t all the time. b) Drinking too much on a regular basis makes you see things in a fucked up way. c) Distractions are okay but I want/need to remember the important things in life. d) It is okay for my priorities to change now. It is okay to let go of the old me. I am not letting go of the good parts. e) It is okay to slow down and take this one step at a time.

A Mixed Bag

I have been a bit stressed out this holiday season, but I am holding tightly onto my sobriety. We have had two attempted break-ins (TWO! WTF!), family visiting, a teething and non-sleeping baby, etc. It has been tempting to look for answers in the booze, but I keep hearing over and over that they are not to be found there, and I believe it. How would being drunk help any of those things? It wouldn’t, and it would probably make them all worse. I am struggling with how to have fun without it, though. I know, I know…it wasn’t really “fun” anyway, but it made the boredom and bad feelings a lot more fuzzy, while everything is so crystal clear and sharp now. Drinking made me less present so I didn’t notice how little fun I was actually having. I mean, often I didn’t remember ANYTHING after drinking for more than a few hours, so I had no idea whether I had fun or not.

Well…that pretty much ruins my thoughts romanticizing the drink. I absolutely HATED waking up not remembering anything, and now that never happens. One huge point for sobriety.

Early sobriety is a little like limbo. I am not yet comfortable being sober all the time, but I no longer want to be drunk. Or be a drunk, I suppose, because sometimes I do think it would be nice to be drunk for a few hours. Then I quickly think through the drink and…nope. I don’t want that life. So…patience is key. It gets easier in tiny increments and sometimes it goes two steps forward one step back. Progress feels slower around the holidays when everyone seems to be imbibing, and all sorts of unpleasant feelings come out to play for a whole bunch of reasons.

I am taking plenty of deep breaths. The end of the holidays is near. New Year’s Eve is tomorrow and I have limited my plans to the bare minimum, as I have done with every other major event this year. Kinda lame, maybe, but I am still too shaky to put myself in precarious situations with lots of alcohol. Maybe after a year or two…if I even want to be in those situations by then.

I will continue to make big plans for my sobriety, and my life, and then take it one day at a time. It is a mixed bag sometimes, but it is my bag and I am gonna focus on the good stuff as much as I can. I am opening my heart more and locking my doors tighter. Wishing you all a wonderful and happy New Year.

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!