Day 7 of no alcohol and Day 4 of juice fasting!

Other than being ever so slightly hungry, I feel like a million bucks, seriously!  I can’t believe how good my body feels for giving it this gift of cleansing.  It has made abstaining from alcohol easier the past couple of days, because I’m focused on the cleanse and detoxing.  For the past four days, I’ve been drinking fresh juices and water, with mixes made from veggies and fruits like carrot, celery, apple, kale, parsley, beet, pear, ginger, chard, cucumber, and oranges.  I’ve never felt so healthy since I was a child.  It’s weird.  My vision even seems clearer!  I have a natural energy that I know I’ve felt before but it’s been so many years that it’s a foreign feeling.  

Today is a bit hard, only because it’s Saturday and the husband and I are lounging around the house with no plans other than to relax and watch a movie or two tonight.  He just went to pick himself up a burrito (swoon) and some organic berries and mint for me to make myself a dessert juice.  Sounds good, right?  It’s going to be my mock wine.  Only better.  But seriously, lounging around the house with time to relax definitely makes me want to drink.  I associate relaxing with wine.  It’s the weekend!  Relax!  Pour a glass of pinot and have some lovely cheese and crackers!  (Okay now I’m really making it harder on myself.)  I’m wondering when those thoughts will dissipate, or if they ever will.  It’s a learned behavior — for so long I’ve had wine to relax at home.  I’ve loved nothing more than to curl up in front of a favorite show or good movie, snack away on something fun and delicious, and wash it down with some fancy wine.  I live in wine country after all!  It’s a way of life here.  

I need to experience the discomfort of creating new habits, and it’s hard.  (Whine.)  Today in yoga my teacher kept saying that the true practice of yoga is to experience happiness in times of discomfort.  In a challenging pose, for example.  That concept translates to life off the mat and I find it extremely useful to meditate on it when the cravings hit hard.  I am happier sober.  This has proven itself to be true, time and time again.  If I can breathe through the craving, breathe in that happiness I feel when I wake up hangover free in the morning, and breathe out the craving, breathe out that urge for a vice whose happiness is a lie, it helps.  

On that yoga-geek note, I’m excited to say that I’ve signed up to start my training to attain my yoga teacher 200 hour certification!  This is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I really started a regular practice in May of 2011, and I’ve decided that this is the perfect time to dive in.  So I’ll be busy for five weekends starting in February.  When I am practicing regularly, I am better able to handle everything, including quitting drinking.  Plus, having yoga training on weekends is that much extra incentive to be alcohol free… drinking and yoga teacher training just do not go hand in hand.  

Staying focused on my goals and breathing through the hard parts… that’s my mantra today.  What helps you through a difficult craving?

Day 6 and back to counting

I was hesitant to say I was counting days again until I made it through new years and even then, I felt like I needed a couple of days to strengthen my resolve.  Today I feel like I’m back on solid ground, so I’m comfortable taking a look at what day it is… day 6.

This is take three of my attempt at 100 days sober.  I seriously have learned so much from my first two attempts.  Even the fact that I’ve been attempting this means that my days of drinking have been seriously cut down in the past six weeks or so.  To have stints of sobriety and then times when I slipped into drinking has taught me loads about what triggers me to drink, what the after affects of drinking are (I could never tell before what was from alcohol and what wasn’t, because I never took a break), and simply how much better I feel once I’ve been sober for a few days.  The feeling of health is something I didn’t even realize I was missing.  I never thought I was hung over on weekdays, but looking back it seems comical that I didn’t think I was.  I woke up every day with a fog in my head.  It was hard to remember things.  Everything seemed difficult.  I had trouble breathing.  I was nauseated.  But still didn’t think of that as being a hangover.  Read = denial.

A couple days before new years my husband and I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  It totally inspired us to buy a juicer, which we did.  We’re still waiting for it to arrive, but in the meantime, when we got up on new years day we decided to go to Whole Foods and get a fresh juice for breakfast.  We spent the day lounging around, except for me going to yoga.  I felt so good after the juice that I decided to turn it into a juice fast to let my digestive system rest and detoxify a bit.  So for the past three days I’ve had lots of fresh vegetable juice, kombucha tea, detox tea, and tons of water.  I’m slightly hungry but most of today I have felt pretty amazing!  I’m surprised at myself for doing this even though I know the benefits of a fast every now and then.  I probably haven’t done this for ten years.

Usually, the thought of fasting was too much for me because I would have to have no alcohol and there was always something coming up where I’d “have to drink.”  It’s so liberating to not have that mentality going on right now, that I have to drink just because some event is coming up.  Because really, that mentality included every event.  Every dinner out, every time I met with a friend, every party, every social interaction, period.  And if I tried to abstain at something, a friend would inevitably say, “Oh, come on and just have a glass of wine.  It’s [insert special occasion here].”  What they didn’t know, and what would make me cringe inside, was that I would have been drinking at home every night that week and was exhausted from my solo “special occasions.”  Even times when I didn’t feel like drinking when out, or at least knew that I should ease up or take a break, I would do it anyway because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do.  I’d muscle through the first glass of wine even when it tasted bad because my body was begging me to stop.  Once that glass sunk in, the rest went down just fine.  And that’s how I kept going.

To not have that compulsion ruling my life right now really does feel amazing.  I feel like a weight has lifted from my whole body.  And maybe this is the vegetable juice, but it actually feels like my cells are thanking me.  I’m going to try and stick to this fast for at least 7 days.  They recommend 10, but not sure I can pull that off.  Whenever I feel like I need to call it off I will.  But for now, it feels perfect to be allowing my body to heal itself and rid itself from toxins.  Perfect way to start the new year.

I’m going to email Belle (tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com) and start my count over at 6.  This time I am more determined than ever to make this 100 days happen.

My first sober new years!!

Well, ok sure.  I was sober plenty of new years under the age of 18.  But once I lived on my own, I know that I never had another one.  Wait, there was one, about ten years ago, when I had previously contemplated my intense party-girl ways and had retreated to a friend’s house in Seattle to take time off.  But that sobriety stint lasted a couple of weeks and then I never saw another sober NYE.  Until last night!  Party at our house and all, I did not have a sip of alcohol.  

We had about 15 friends over throughout the night, I had cooked food and made snacks, people brought food and smiles and hugs.  Luckily most of the friends we invited were not our craziest party friends.  They are all people who drink, but pretty moderately.  They are people we have other things in common with through our careers or yoga.  So it was not as hard as I expected.  I had a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne that was actually pretty decent.  Turns out, there was another person at the party who was not drinking too, and he kept coming back to share the bottle of the non-alch stuff with me, which was pretty cool.  We talked a lot about health.  He had come prepared with tea and coconut water, which he shared with me too.  He was open about being on his tenth day of not drinking, for health reasons.  Made me feel more normal and less like I had to hide that I was sober all night.  All-in-all, it somehow really wasn’t a big deal.  

As the night wore on and people started to show their intoxication, I found myself actually happy to not be drinking.  The hardest part was while we were waiting for people to arrive (usually when I down a couple to ease my anxiety about the event) and during the first couple hours.  After that, no one really seemed to notice I wasn’t drinking, and I just stopped caring.  Here’s the crazy part — I stopped caring because I was actually just having fun.  Having fun sober.  I have been telling myself that this is a foreign concept to me, but somehow my mentality shifted last night and I just decided to give it a go.  Luckily I have great friends and it simply wasn’t a big deal.  I even danced with my husband and friends.  And totally noticed how awkward my dancing felt, but also didn’t let it get to me.  

You know what really helps with this fun-without-alcohol thing?  Besides having good friends who I realized I need to spend more time with (instead of cousin and her husband and their circle, as previously written about), yoga.  Yoga really, really helps me remember to breathe and be present.  That I can even take it one breath at a time if I need to.  It seriously motivated me to have a yoga workshop to look forward to today and the thought of attending it helped me stay with my goal of not drinking last night.  

Today in the workshop the yoga teacher invited us to feel proud of ourselves today for something we’ve accomplished, even if it was just showing up to yoga.  When he said the words, “you should feel really, really proud of yourselves,” I was so moved.  Because I am.  I am really, really proud of myself for staying true to my intention to not drink and for experiencing the beginning of a new year with clarity.  So now I am on day four and I am feeling great.  Whole new ways of living are ahead of me and I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds.  

Happy new year friends, and thank you for getting me through this hurdle by sharing your stories in this sober blogoshpere, and with your kind comments of encouragement.  I am so grateful.  

 

Last post of 2013

And I’m sitting at my office.  It’s 4:15 p.m., almost time to head home for the night.  I plan to cook up a good pot of black eyed peas (apparently good luck for the new year, a southern tradition), straighten the house a bit, pour myself a good sparkling water with lemon in a fun glass, and prepare for our friends to arrive.  I have mixed feelings about having company, but I can feel the true me in there, who simply wants to share some good moments with friends and who doesn’t care about alcohol.  I was that person, once.  Even if I was a teenager, she’s still in there and I am going to channel her. 

In the middle of my day, I received news from my parents that my brother (who has been a chronic alcoholic, methamphetamine addict, et. al., to a level of extremity that I’ve never come close to) has completely deteriorated into meth and alcohol abuse again.  We all expected that he was deep into drinking again as he blew off the family (including his son, who my parents have full custody of since he can’t get his shit together) on Christmas and has not been responding to calls.  But meth?!?!  Again?  I couldn’t believe he would already sink so low when he was only out of the program a couple of weeks ago (he started drinking again three days after getting home but now has lost 20 pounds and has dropped into oblivion.)

To make an agonizingly long story short, this type of news is not unexpected with him.  This time, though, we all had more hope as my parents had put him through an expensive, longer term residential rehab program just a few months ago.  It was probably his seventh time, but we all had more hope this time.  He had gone to the emergency room for a cut finger (which he almost severed on a broken beer bottle) only to lose it in the ER and attack a bunch of medical staff and end up in jail, where he had mulitple seizures and was taken to the hospital again to suffer more seizures and an extremely painful detox process.  When I went to the hospital to see him, the nurse told me that if he ever has to detox like this again, he is likely not to make it because he has done such severe damage to his system. 

I hadn’t been in touch with my brother before that, really, because of this crazy roller coaster he’s put us all on over the years.  Watching him disrespect my parents, not caring when he lost custody of his disabled son, not caring about anyone.  Constantly waiting for the phone call that he’s dead or in jail.  But this time I felt moved to visit him in the hospital and I wasn’t sure why.  I spent the whole day with him and it was like I saw the true him shining through.  He told me that he had attempted suicide in the jail because the detox hurt so badly.  He told me he cried out to God, and that soon afterward he was embraced by a warm light and a feeling of peace.  He said that feeling saved his life and that he would never drink again.  That he knew he had a purpose and a reason to live.  I believed him, even though I usually wouldn’t.  So we sent him to the program.  “One last time,” we told him, our hearts full of hope. 

It’s hard not to scream, to run, to cry, to pull my hair out, to be so angry at him.  It’s hard not to drink.  Why the hell not?  It’s certainly not ME who has given up my child, who has been convicted of felonies, who has shot up drugs in my arms.  It’s not ME who has lost all control, lost all my friends and family, who has been to rehab seven times and never stayed clean.  My issues are not even a wildflower in the landscape of my brother’s problems.  It almost feels even more like I’m being ridiculous for entertaining the thought that I have a problem in the shadow of all that.  But here’s the thing.  I still get to choose to not drink if it’s not right for me.  I still get to love myself that much, even if my brother can’t find love for himself.  I can choose to let him live his life his way and know that I have done what is possible to help even if it has not worked, even if it hurts. 

Lots of challenges today between this sad news, hearing my parents’ despair and being unable to help, and having a party to host tonight.  But in this moment, I get to write stuff down and put it out there, and that does make me feel stronger.  And if I can make it through today, I can truly make it through anything.  Tonight will strengthen my sober muscles.  Gonna be a good workout but day 4 awaits me on new years morning.  🙂