Do No Harm

Hi folks! I am back from a fun but stressful trip to visit family (aren’t all family visits kinda stressful? Is it just me?), and I wanted to pop in to say hello. It was a scary trip for me; I saw family that I haven’t seen in years, and I don’t think I would have planned it or gone if I had been drinking this year.

Stress still makes me want to drink in an abstract kind of way, but luckily it is getting much easier to see what is going on in my little lizard brain. Whenever I begin to think that drinking is a good idea, or that everyone drinks and why can’t I, or some other version of “poor me”, chances are that I am stressed or tired or sick. Once I talk about my feelings, or get some rest, or get away from the stressful situation, or practice some sort of self-care, I stop thinking that drinking is a good idea. Pretty simple, right? Yet it is amazingly difficult to remember sometimes, especially when in the thick of the bad feelings. Keep going going going, stay sober, and those tricky drinking thoughts get easier to recognize for what they are: bullshit. So that’s a cool development.

I am fast approaching one year of sobriety and I am pretty happy about it. I get discouraged sometimes that I am not moving fast enough in recovery, doing enough for others, actualizing into super-Jen, or making and achieving big goals. Yep- I still doubt myself and the path that I am on. BUT- and this is big- I am not hurting other people so much anymore, my goals are clarifying, and I am learning how to be happy with who I am, where I am, what I have, and what I am doing. I would say sobriety is a general success for me so far. And this is just the beginning! 

When I was a drinker I hurt people through my thoughtless actions, or brainless actions, as I did a lot of mean/stupid/careless things when I was blacked out. I still hurt people sometimes, especially those close to me, but the amount is so much less than it used to be. I can guarantee that if I had been drinking this year there would have been more fights, more hurt feelings and more tears. More DRAMA. And who freakin’ needs that? It is worth going through this tough transition- from a drinker to a sober woman- to hurt people less often and less severely. Do no harm. It is a good motto, I think.

I am finding it less necessary to delve into the past these days. I can hold my head high knowing that I am doing the right things for myself and the people that I love. That sounds pretty smug, but it just feels good. I don’t feel better than anyone else, I just could care less what others are doing most of the time (especially about drinking) as long as I am taking care of my own stuff. What YOU do doesn’t lessen ME. Who knew it would take almost 35 years to realize that? This vacation that I took with my family gave me a slight shift in perspective- a good reminder of the power of travel- that I needed to hopefully make this next year the best yet.

 

 

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.