1. Hangover free mornings. I love being able to focus and be present for my family in the morning. Last year, I was late to work almost every single day. This year, I have been very slightly late (due to last minute kid drop-off logistics) twice. Boo-YAH!
2. Reading. I have a literature degree and am an English teacher so reading should be an intergral part of my life, right? Not so much. When I was drinking, I read only what was absolutely necessary, usually for work or school. I probably averaged a (recreational) book a year (maybe). Now I read voraciously like I did as a child. Sometimes, I even read alcoholically (shocking, right?) and I have to remind myself to go the fuck to bed. Since getting sober I have read around 15 books. I feel like I have a piece of my soul back.
3. Better skin. Did you know that if you wash your make-up off before bed that you don’t get giant crater zits on your chin?? Apparently, I did not know this. I would pass out nightly in my makeup. Now I wash my face EVERY night and even have a quirky little skincare regimen. My skin, though showing signs of my 38 years, looks better than it has in years. Now I need to work on flossing everyday.
4. Weight loss. I haven’t quite figured out the magic formula on this one but I have lost 10 pounds while doing absolutely nothing. So there is that. I will take it.
5. Liking (maybe even loving) myself. Holy shit! I had no clue that self-respect would be a bi-product of sobriety, but for me, it definitely is.
6. Real friendships. When your life revolves around drinking and recovering from hangovers, you tend to put meaningful relationships on the back burner. In recovery, I have repaired and strengthened existing friendships and developed new ties, as well.
7. More money. I am a walking, talking financial shit show but so much less so since cutting out about $300-$500 per month on booze.
8. Better mommy time. I thought I would be an amazing mom after I quit drinking. To my dismay, I did not turn into June Clever. I am definitely imperfect, as a mom but I am present and sober.
9. My time is my own. I was a slave to booze. It ruled my schedule. Now, if I want to stay home all day on a Sunday, I can do that. No need to plan my life around liquor store runs, drinking time and, lets not forget, the all consuming hangover recovery time.
10. Sharper senses. I swear, food tastes better, music sounds better and everything is more beautiful sober. Maybe I am just grateful to be alive.
Thanks for all of the well wishes and messages on my last post. I was eaten alive by my job this quarter but I do love posting. The process of writing and the feedback I receive from you all helps me SOOOOO MUCH. I am going to try to get back to it on the regular.
- A Full Measure of Sobriety (cindyfrances.com)
- What I Learned From Quitting Drinking (Again and again and again) (itstheheartswell.wordpress.com)
- Sober is the new black! (carrieonsober.wordpress.com)
When I was 19, I fell in love with a man named Brian. I was utterly, hopelessly, disgustingly in LOVE in a way only a 19 year-old can be in love. He was remarkably flawed. He was a 26 year-old, follically challenged restaurant manager who lived with his mom and yet, I utterly worshipped him. When he broke up with me on our one year anniversary because he was having sex with another woman, I was beyond devastated. I became a ghost of myself. I lost weight. I became terribly ill. It was all very Victorian. I pined and raged. I sobbed and mourned his loss with every fiber of my soul. But, I also started taking better care of myself. I learned that I was ok on my own. I grew stronger. I began to figure out who I really was and began to find comfort in my own skin for the first time on my life. About 2 months after “the breakup,” he started calling me again. At first I was overjoyed, but at the memory of the pain and suffering I had endured, I became cautious even reticent. About a month later, I met my husband. He saw and fell in love with me, the real me not a version of me I created to please him. He supported and respected me- something completely new. I was able to kick Brian out of my life and fall into a much healthier, stronger love.
I was thinking about my relationship with alcohol and reflecting what I have learned in the last six months. My irrational devotion to alcohol was much like my devotion to Brian and my “break-up” with alcohol paralleled both the pain and struggle I endured and the amazing peace and clarity I gained through that experience. Giving up alcohol was (and still is) messy, endlessly difficult, excruciatingly painful but also rewarding on a level I don’t think I can easily explain. I have discovered myself again. Sobriety has not been a magic bullet. My life is far from perfect. But sobriety has enabled me to find peace and gratitude for my life and for my self, just as it is and just as I am. In sobriety, I find it easier to embrace the now rather than endlessly fret over the future or pine for the past. This is a radical shift.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Recovery requires constant vigilance. I need to remind myself of this often. Recovery is (and should be) hard work. For me, recovery has become huge part of my daily routine and thought process. There is not one day that has gone by where I have not thought about and worked on my recovery. I have had to rework aspects of my life to fit into my new alcohol free paradigm. I have not set foot in a liquor store for six months. I avoid bars like the plague. I declined party invitations this year and I asked my family to make my home alcohol free over the holidays. It hasn’t been an easy switch but what in life that is truly worth anything comes easily?
I am lucky. I have a lot of support. I have AMAZING friends. My husband is also sober and is my rock. He relapsed in October and it shook my sobriety to its core. I realized that although we are on this journey together, our recovery is not intertwined or interdependant. Also, while I have determined that AA is not a great fit for me at this time, I find daily meaningful interaction with other alcoholics to be the cornerstone of my recovery program.
I am not saying I have it all locked up. Everyone has their own path. I am not, nor will I ever be, “cured.” I am, however, a much better version of myself sober. I choose this life over alcohol any day.
The slight pop and scrape of the cork,
the carmel colored elixir
tumbling over thin cubes of ice
I could jump
in to that glass tonight
never to ever return
never to ever return
This week was difficult but there were more victories than defeats. Work got better. Our new schedule is working. I managed to get in a yoga class. My biggest defeat? I forgot my dad’s birthday. It was Wednesday and I didn’t remember until this morning. I feel like the world’s worst daughter. It doesn’t matter that for years, he was the world’s worst father. Sigh. Around 2:30, after our second lockdown drill, I found myself fighting a terrible battle internally. I wanted to drink. I didn’t want one. I wanted all of them. For hours, there were two minds duking it out in my head. The voice of the sullen, desperate alcoholic begged for one more release. One more. One more. One more. Just one more! She argued we could sneak off to the liquor store instead of a to meeting. She reasoned we could likely get the boy on board. She begged and pleaded. She yelled and screamed. It was a nuclear level threat in my head. It came on without warning.
The sober me, the real me, the me I am just getting to know, my Phoenix-self, who rose from the ashes of my alcoholic bullshit, told that other sad, pathetic me to stuff it over and over. 82 days. I am not giving in after 82 days. My 100 day ring on the mantle in a wrapped box. The bright, loving eyes of my children, always watching. Learning from my choices. Trusting me to take care of all of us. I went to my meeting. I listened. Sometimes, I just need to shut the fuck up and listen. Hard lessons…
But, I made it. Tomorrow, I will call my dad.
(Part 1 of this was posted on the BFB FB page, as well. Sorry if it is redundant).
Part One, 6PM: Holy hell!!! Today was ROUGH. I got voicemail from my grandmother at work in which she demanded that I come to the nursing home right away so we could talk about “things.” I left work early to go see her before a hair appointment. I get to the nursing home and it is fucking (sorry) happy hour (fucking, really?) and my grandmother, instead of sitting with other people like a normal damn person, is seated at the makeshift bar by herself (not even drinking!). I had to sit next to an open can of beer and open bottles of wine while I tried to figure out what was going on with my grandmother. And….she couldn’t remember why she called!!! Next, the activity director tried to hard sell me on free booze and cheese. I told G I had to go. I was about to crawl out of my skin.
I went to my hair appointment early. When I walked in, my hairdresser offered me a glass of wine (fuck!). I shuttered and said “no.” I realized it wasn’t the nicest refusal so I told her I was in recovery (I have known her for over a decade and honestly adore her, despite the following). She was completely shocked but mildly supportive (Good…for…you… Really). She made some comment about having the same problem years ago and having to “cut back” (Fuck you!!) Then she made a comment about an ex boyfriend who had a drug problem stating that she thought getting over addiction really just came down to willpower (after all, that was what worked for her). (Double fuck you!) Then she asked me if I had lost a lot of friends (WTF?). I am never leaving the house or speaking with anyone outside of my immediate family ever again. Ok, maybe I will just go to my Friday AA meeting, but after that- I am becoming a sober fucking hermit (sorry for all the f-bombs, it has been that kind of a day).
Part Two, 10PM:
So, I went to my AA meeting. Man, I really like this meeting. It feels very homey. I like the people, I like the vibe, I like the location and despite the fact that it is in a church, it is less God- centered than the others in town. I was a little panicked when I got there and even more panicked when a student of mine walked in to sit with his mom. Shit! But I listened to some stories, ate some birthday cake and calmed the fuck down. I had decided that I was going to share my story before I even got there (a plan I almost scrapped after I saw my student there but ultimately decided to go for it anyhow). I think I am kind of dating this meeting. It was perfect because the topic was ‘forces that keep us sober.’ Today, knowing I had my meeting was a great comfort, so I talked about that. After I shared another guy shared and then mentioned he couldn’t chair a meeting he was scheduled to chair at the end of the month. I am a chronic over helper. (Is there a support group for that?) No one volunteered so little helper me chimed right up and volunteered. The woman who was chairing the meeting looked a bit uncertain and said we could chat after the meeting. I knew I had made a tactical error almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth. After the meeting, a guy came over and somewhat awkwardly told me what I already suspected: I need a year before I can chair. Oh, but he felt it necessary to further explain how I needed to be deemed worthy of delivering the ‘AA message.’ He kept going on and on (I totally got it at, “you need a year” ponytail dude) about all of the things I needed to do or accomplish before I could take on this responsibility. I was beginning to feel really unwelcome in this little meeting. I was also starting to get a little pissed. I gently interrupted him and apologized for volunteering out of turn, grabbed my stuff and scurried out. For about an hour after the meeting, the pissed feeling stuck around. Wolfie also tried squeeze in a comment or two. (Fuck you, Wolfie! I am not in the fucking mood for your bullshit right now!). After some reflection, I have decided that I am not giving up on AA or on the meeting I like (though I really wanted to for a little while there), but I will likely steer way clear of self-righteous, ponytail dude. I am also not going to beat myself up for making an innocent mistake.
You know what else? I had this super shitty afternoon/evening but I got through it. I am going to go to bed soon, I will sleep like a baby (b/c I am freaking exhausted) and I will wake up tomorrow without a hangover, shame or otherwise. NIght, night. 🙂
Half way to 100 and 50 days further away from oblivion. My counter tells me I have avoided drinking 500 drinks in that time. Holy hell!